COVID-19 vaccine boosters: The good, the bad, and the ugly
Rzymski P., Camargo CA., Fal A., Flisiak R., Gwenzi W., Kelishadi R., Leemans A., Nieto JJ., Ozen A., Perc M., Poniedziałek B., Sedikides C., Sellke F., Skirmuntt EC., Stashchak A., Rezaei N.
Pursuing vaccinations against COVID-19 brings hope to limit the spread of SARS-CoV-2 and remains the most rational decision under pandemic conditions. However, it does not come without challenges, including temporary shortages in vaccine doses, significant vaccine inequity, and questions regarding the durability of vaccine-induced immunity that remain unanswered. Moreover, SARS-CoV-2 has undergone evolution with the emergence of its novel variants, characterized by enhanced transmissibility and ability to at least partially evade neutralizing antibodies. At the same time, serum antibody levels start to wane within a few months after vaccination, ultimately increasing the risk of breakthrough infections. This article discusses whether the administration of booster doses of COVID-19 vaccines is urgently needed to control the pandemic. We conclude that, at present, optimizing the immunity level of wealthy populations cannot come at the expense of low-income regions that suffer from vaccine unavailability. Although the efficiency of vaccination in protecting from infection may decrease over time, current data show that efficacy against severe disease, hospitalization, and death remains at a high level. If vaccine coverage continues at extremely low levels in various regions, including African countries, SARS-CoV-2 may sooner or later evolve into variants better adapted to evade natural and vaccine-induced immunity, ultimately bringing a global threat that, of course, includes wealthy populations. We offer key recommendations to increase vaccination rates in low-income countries. The pandemic is, by definition, a major epidemiological event and requires looking beyond one’s immediate self-interest; otherwise, efforts to contain it will be futile.