UCSF infectious disease expert Dr. Monica Gandhi, who already this week was advocating for nixing the outdoor mask mandate for cities, also pushed back on the commonly held assumption that vaccine booster shots are definitely going to be necessary.
Pointing to data on study participants in the vaccine trials, some of whom have been vaccinated since July 2020, Dr. Gandhi suggests that booster shots may turn out to be unnecessary, and vaccine recipients' T cells may be doing sufficient work to protect them from COVID variants.
"It's important to say public health needs to decide about booster shots, not the heads of these companies making the vaccines," Dr. Gandhi said, speaking to ABC 7. Her comments come after some made by Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla late last week in which he suggested the need for boosters was "likely" at this point.
"Anyone who received the vaccine during the trials actually received them in July 2020," she said. And of those 44,000 study participants, "We are not seeing breakthrough infections, even in the setting of surges." This included residents of South Africa who had been exposed to the B.1.351 variant.
T cell immunity, which as Dr. Gandhi has stressed before is harder to measure than antibody levels, may in fact be very strong in the immunized population, negating the need for a third booster shot.
"I'm very hopeful that we won't need these booster vaccines, but if we do, the technology will make this very easy for us to get them in the future if we have outbreaks pop up," she said to ABC 7.
Other experts have said that while the booster shots may not end up being deemed necessary, they still may be recommended for healthcare professionals, the elderly, or other at-risk groups.
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