By EARYEL BOWLEG
Tribune Staff Reporter
DEPUTY Chief Medical Officer Dr Delon Brennen said it is likely that people who are vaccinated against COVID-19 this year may need a booster shot in the future to continue their protection against the disease.
Dr Brennen made the revelation yesterday while on the Guardian Radio show Morning Blend, where he talked about the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine and its impending rollout in the country.
When asked if he thought it is possible that a vaccinated person would have to get a COVID-19 jab again next year, he said, “I do actually.”
“It isn’t just a variant thing it is how long the protection from either native infection and/or vaccination has shown up around the world.
“So when you look at once someone has actually been infected with COVID-19, they have natural immunity to the vaccine. So they produce their own antibodies and the like that tends to last up to three to four months.
“So we’ve seen re-infections from COVID-19 specifically because this has been going on for more than a year. We’ve seen people who have been infected that have been re-infected.
“So it is entirely possible that if you get vaccinated now you have protection for some undetermined amount of time.
“We don’t know exactly what’s that going to be yet but it is very likely that going on into the future that you will have to receive let’s call the booster doses or a dose of you know a vaccine that covers the strains that are predominant in your region or in your hemisphere in the next season like we do for influenza.”
When contacted about these comments, director of the National HIV/AIDS and Infectious Disease Programme at the Ministry of Health Dr Nikkiah Forbes pointed out to The Tribune that data is still needed on the COVID-19 vaccine’s efficacy against emerging strains of the virus.
“So what we know thus far is that with emerging new variants that not all of the vaccines are fully efficacious against these strains,” she said.
“They may have some efficacy, but we already know with certain strains like the South African strain that the efficacy in these vaccines is reduced somewhat.
“It may become fully possible that boosters are developed that will help to cover the newer strains that may emerge.
“This is something that is being looked at and worked on and the other thing is we still need data on the time immunity will last for the COVID vaccine.”
Still she said there is a silver lining, explaining these vaccines are still efficacious against many COVID-19 strains and there is evidence that these vaccines can prevent severe and symptomatic COVID-19.
The country recorded two COVID-19 cases on Sunday, bringing the nation’s toll to 8,289.