S’pore Infectious Diseases Experts Question Why Younger Adults Need Booster Shots

Last Updated on 2021-09-15 , 10:28 am

Since the COVID-19 pandemic is an unprecedented affair, people are always going to disagree on how to tackle it.

Some believe a country’s border’s should be completely closed off, while others recognise that not all countries can afford to do so.

Some are of the opinion that lockdowns are no longer necessary if enough people are vaccinated, while others still think they are crucial in preventing our hospitals from getting overwhelmed.

It seems that there’s no objectively right way to go about this pandemic, and that, until we return to something resembling normalcy, people will continue to disagree on the appropriate measures to combat the disease.

Booster Shots, Anyone?

One such issue concerns the use of booster shots.

On Monday (6 Sep), our Finance Minister and famous wearer of light-coloured shirts Lawrence Wong made an interesting announcement.

He said that the government is studying the possibility of booster shots for young adults, as it would not only benefit them but help slow down transmission rates as well.

A few days earlier, the authorities announced that booster shots would be offered to moderately-to-severely immunocompromised residents, seniors aged 60 and above, and residents of aged care homes.

S’pore Infectious Diseases Experts Question Why Younger Adults Need Booster Shots

While booster shots may be needed for certain vulnerable groups, they may not be especially beneficial for young adults.

At least that’s what some infectious disease experts here think.

As Professor Dale Fisher, a senior infectious diseases consultant at the National University Hospital, told The Straits Timesthe ultimate aim here is to prevent severe disease and death.

Vaccination does this, but not many would benefit from a third jab, he said.

He understands that the authorities want to observe the impact of high transmission rates on hospitals, but said Singapore shouldn’t revert to full prevention of COVID-19 cases.

While vaccinated individuals can still transmit the disease even if asymptomatic, vaccination does reduce the risk of transmission.

However, Duke-NUS’ Professor Ooi Eng Eong believes that preventing infection would be a “bonus and not a necessity”.

Evidence for Booster Shots’ Efficacy? 

So, is there any real benefit in administering booster shots to young adults?

The only evidence of its efficacy that we have comes from a study carried out in Israel, where 61% of the population is fully vaccinated.

In the study, people aged 60 and older were given a third dose of a Pfizer-BioNTech’s vaccine and compared with those in the same age group who had only received two doses.

The study found that the protection provided against COVID-19 infection from 10 days after a third dose was four times higher than after two doses.

More importantly, it also offered five to six times greater protection after 10 days in preventing serious illness and hospitalisation.

The country began administering booster shots to those 60 and above on 30 July, and recently dropped the age of eligibility to 40.

However, this study has not been peer-reviewed and has only documented the effects of a booster shot in older people.

So it remains unclear if it will have any benefit for younger adults, who are already less vulnerable to the disease.

Read Also: 

Feature Image: BaLL LunLa / Shutterstock.com