COVID-19: Europe’s drug regulator backs booster shots for people with weak immunity

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) on Monday advised people with “severely weakened immune systems” to receive a third dose of Pfizer’s BioNTech …

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) on Monday advised people with “severely weakened immune systems” to receive a third dose of Pfizer’s BioNTech or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine. The European Union’s Medicines Agency said in a statement that people 18 and older should receive a booster at least 28 days after their second dose.

The recommendations were issued after data showed an increase in antibody levels following administration of Pfizer-BioNTech booster vaccine 6 months after the second dose of vaccine in people aged 18 to 55 years.

“Although there is no direct evidence that the ability to produce antibodies in these patients is protective against COVID-19, it is expected that the additional dose would increase protection in at least some patients,” the agency said.

The European Commission and health authorities in all 27 EU countries must agree to the recommendations.

It remains the responsibility of member states to decide whether the wider population should receive a booster vaccination, but some countries have already begun administering the third dose.

Several studies have shown that the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines continue to provide strong protection months after the second dose is received, dramatically reducing the risk of hospitalization and death.

But not all experts agree on the strategy. The World Health Organization has urged wealthy nations not to use booster doses this year, arguing that COVID-19 vaccines would be better used in developing countries where many people still have not received their first vaccinations.

It also says there is no scientific data to support the need for booster shots.

“The company does not expect the introduction of booster doses in the U.S. and EU, if approved, to impact existing supply agreements with governments and international health organizations around the world,” Pfizer-BioNTech said in a statement.

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