A U.K. advisory panel recommended against a fourth Covid-19 vaccine dose for elderly and at-risk populations, citing evidence that a third shot provides sufficient immunity.
The U.K. Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunization advised against the fourth dose after data showed one booster shot — a third dose of an mRNA vaccine — offered enough protection against Covid-19 after three months, according to the Associated Press.
The panel recommended instead that as many people as possible receive a third shot to strengthen protection against infection.
“The current data show the booster dose is continuing to provide high levels of protection against severe disease, even for the most vulnerable older age groups,” said committee chair Wei Shen Lim, according to the AP.
“For this reason, the committee has concluded there is no immediate need to introduce a second booster dose, though this will continue to be reviewed,” Lim added.
The committee’s consideration of a fourth dose comes amid a spike in Covid-19 cases driven by the highly-transmissible Omicron variant. The U.K. has seen a surge of new cases and a staff shortage in hospitals as the virus — which is thought to be more mild than previous strains — spreads.
Late last month Israel became one of the first countries to administer a fourth vaccine dose after it approved the shots for individuals with weakened immune systems, elderly residents, and employees in care homes.
Moderna CEO Stephane Bancel said earlier this week that he believes a fourth Covid vaccine shot will eventually be needed as protection from previous shots wanes over time.
“I will be surprised when we get that data in the coming weeks that it’s holding nicely over time—I would expect that it’s not going to hold great,” Bancel said, though he added that those who received third shots in fall 2021 are likely protected through the spring.
“Assuming Omicron is an acceleration to the endemic phase, I still believe we’re going to need boosters in the fall of ’22 and forward,” Bancel continued, noting that at-risk groups may need additional boosters for years.
Moderna projected in the third quarter of 2021 that its Covid vaccines would account for $15 billion to $18 billion in sales by the end of the year.
Last month, Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla told CNBC’s Squawk Box that another dose of the drugmaker’s vaccine may be needed sooner than expected because of the Omicron variant.