COVID Booster Shot: A Healthcare Miracle Or Marketing Gimmick ?
The present global scenario is akin to the classic children’s story, Alice in Wonderland. Like the protagonist in the acclaimed novel, the world is headed down the proverbial rabbit hole ever since the pandemic struck. Global lockdown, economic slump, mass hysteria, death, inequitable access to vaccines, botched vaccination programs – the world has seen it all in the past two years. Even then, the end is hardly in sight.
The discovery of the latest COVID variant, dubbed Omicron, threw a spanner in the works as the world braced itself for a third wave. In the midst of all the confusion, Pfizer and BioNTech released statements saying that the third dose of their respective vaccines would protect against Omicron. They even recommended that a COVID booster dose be given as earlier as three months after the first two doses.
While the timing of the announcements sent tin foil hatters buzzing, Pfizer and BioNTech released lab findings that supported their reports. It seemed enough to satisfy the majority as ‘getting a third dose or booster’ became an accepted fact to protect oneself against Omicron. But is getting the third dose or a COVID booster dose really effective at all? Or is it another unfounded truth purported by certain groups with vested interests?
One way to peel off the layers would be to look at Israel. It was one of the first countries to vaccinate its population. In fact, when most of the world was scrambling for vaccines, 50 percent of the Israeli population was fully vaccinated. However, it also became their downfall when the Delta variant appeared in early July. By mid-September, Israel was registering 10,000 cases daily.
Israeli researchers linked this to decreased immunity levels amongst the vaccinated, requiring follow-up shots. The same appears to be true for the Omicron variant. As hospitalizations increase across the globe, questions are being raised about the effectiveness of the vaccines. Will a third shot or a COVID booster dose reduce the risk of Omicron infection?
There is no definite answer to this question. Pfizer CEO, Albert Bourla, changed his tune in a recent interview with CNBC. Contrary to his previous claims that Pfizer shots were “100 percent effective”, he now states that three doses along with a COVID booster dose offer “reasonable protection against hospitalization and mortality but less protection against infection”. Such statements underline the inherent problem with the global vaccination program.
One cannot help but wonder if the pandemic is another opportunity for pharma companies to milk the global populace with claims of magic vaccines that offer cent percent immunity. This certainly casts a giant shadow on the effectiveness of a third dose or a booster. Is a COVID booster dose an effective solution for Omicron or is it just another marketing gimmick by pharma giants? Best guess? Only time will tell.