Coronavirus booster dose ‘unnecessary,’ say Saudi experts

More than 40.7mln doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in Saudi Arabia

  
A Saudi woman waits to get a dose of a coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia December 17, 2020.

A Saudi woman waits to get a dose of a coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia December 17, 2020.

REUTERS/Ahmed Yosri
JEDDAH: A third dose of the COVID-19 vaccine is unnecessary, according to Saudi health experts.
 
“If the two doses of the vaccine prevent severe illness/staying in hospital/death, it does not make sense for the general population to receive a third dose,” said deputy health minister for preventive health, Dr. Abdullah Assiri.
 
Assiri, who is also an infectious diseases consultant, added: “At this stage of excellent vaccination coverage, we need to reconsider the rationale and method of laboratory testing for COVID-19, and judge the pandemic only from the perspective of the burden of disease on society."
 
The comments came after news of proposed booster shots of Pfizer and BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine for the general public, and third jabs for people aged 65 and older and other vulnerable groups.
 
Meanwhile, infectious disease expert, Ahmed Al-Hakawi, said that accelerating demand for approval of a third (booster) dose for everyone was not supported by a study he cited.

Titled “Safety and Efficacy of the BNT162b2 mRNA Covid-19 Vaccine through 6 Months,” the study, published on Sept. 15, was conducted on more than 45,000 participants in 152 sites in six countries.

The study concluded that “through 6 months of follow-up and despite a gradual decline in vaccine efficacy, BNT162b2 had a favorable safety profile and was highly efficacious in preventing COVID-19.”

“The vaccine still provides protection against severe disease even six months after the second dose,” said Al-Hakawi, who is also a hospital epidemiologist in Riyadh.

Saudi Arabia recorded 68 new cases of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) on Saturday, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 546,479, the Ministry of Health said.

New recoveries reported amounted to 77, raising the total number to 535,450.

With the high recovery rate, the number of active cases has declined to 2,373, of which 361 are in critical care.

Five people have died in the past 24 hours, raising the total number of deaths to 8,656.

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