Many developing countries have not even received the Covid-19 vaccine or the doses needed to start a first vaccination. Many others, the rich ones, have obtained millions of doses but have not even managed, at the moment, to vaccinate half the population with one dose. In this context, someone is already speculating on the horizon that we will have to take a third dose and most likely we will have to do it again every year.
One of the first to turn the light on the hypothesis of a third dose was the Spanish Minister of Health, Carolina Darias, who said that “everything indicates that it will be necessary to administer a third dose of the Coronavirus vaccine due to the appearance of new variants that could reduce the current protections “.
The Spaniards have already signed, through the EU, agreements with Pfizer and Moderna. They are practically certain that the third dose will be done but they still don’t know how to identify a date.
According to the minister, the Spaniards will have to get vaccinated every year but the primary goal is to continue vaccinating as quickly as possible to achieve herd immunity.
But is the Spanish government’s position supported by scientific evidence? At present the need for the third dose of the vaccine does not appear to be. Regulatory agencies such as EMA in Europe and FDA in the United States, and the results of the studies published so far show that the complete program of all vaccines used (Pfizer, BioNTech, Moderna, Janssen and AstraZeneca) is sufficient to protect against all variants known of Covid-19.
Vaccinated people may, in some cases, become infected, but will develop mild clinical symptoms or may even be asymptomatic.
According to Darias’ data, 83% of the people infected in this fifth wave of the pandemic were not immunized, 11.4% had received one dose and only 5.5% had completed the two doses.
Given the clamor of the minister’s statements, a spokesman tried to make a correction by saying that “the minister’s words only meant that Spain is also prepared for the third dose but will still respect the decisions of the scientific community”.
The CEOs of Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, on the other hand, in their statements have repeatedly confirmed the need for the third dose.
The position of the Big Pharma giants is motivated by the decrease in antibody levels in some people, but no one has seen the data supporting the need for a third dose.
Health experts reminded that antibodies are only part of the complex immune system. Furthermore, a drop in laboratory measurements does not mean that the organism is no longer protected against the virus.
Last May, the European Commission closed an agreement with Pfizer-BioiNTech for the purchase of 900 million doses, plus an additional 900 million optional, should supplementary doses be needed.
However, the scientific community agrees that the third dose is not necessary. SARS-CoV-2 will eventually be a seasonal virus, which may require annual vaccination.
One concern, however, is the slowness of the immunization process. Unfortunately, there are still many countries where not even the most vulnerable groups have been vaccinated, and this increases the chances that the virus will continue to mutate to defend itself against vaccines.
It would be this scenario, more or less probable depending on the sources, that would require a third dose.
The “rash” statements by the minister, however, have awakened the response of the colleague of health of the community of Madrid, Enrique Ruiz Escudero who said “as before increasing the possibility of a third one should work to ensure the arrival of the doses at least first and second dose. “And the debate in politics has just opened.