With some countries offering their citizens a second booster shot, will Singapore follow their lead?
Singapore’s director of medical services, Kenneth Mak, says that there are no plans for a second booster yet. Here’s why.
Second Booster Not Necessary Now
The authorities have analysed the available evidence on the protection offered by vaccines, together with the rate of infection amongst the vaccinated.
Associate Professor Mak shared in a press conference on 16 February that a second booster shot isn’t considered necessary now. It is still too early to speculate on whether and when additional booster shots are needed, especially when they’re still encouraging more people to get their first booster shot.
When there are people who are resistant to the idea of one booster shot… I think you can see why introducing a second booster is not the best idea right now.
It will take some time before the authorities have to review whether a second booster is necessary, as they also have to take into consideration factors like a new variant. If a new variant emerges, it may require us to upgrade the protection we have from our current jabs.
But for now, the Ministry of Health (MOH) recommends a booster five months after completing two jabs of the Pfizer or Moderna mRNA vaccines.
Those who are done with three jabs of the Sinovac-CoronaVac and Sinopharm vaccines should get a booster after three months, as these vaccines generate lower antibody levels.
Vaccines’ Protection Found To Decrease Over Time
Studies by scientists in many countries show that protection offered by vaccines against infection decreases after two to three months. However, protection against severe disease and death lasts longer.
The United States’ Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has reaffirmed the above. Vaccines were 91% effective in keeping a patient from needing hospitalisation after two months of a booster shot, and fell to 78% after four months.
Health Minister Ong Ye Kung has also said that the question of whether more boosters are needed is still debated amongst scientists. It may not be necessary to develop variant-specific vaccines if future variants are less severe, like Omicron.
However, if we get a variant that is as destructive and transmissible as Delta, then variant-specific vaccines may be possible.
Alas, we can’t predict the future. But one thing’s for sure: there will not be a second booster in the near future.
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