Cyprus is very close to having 70% of eligible adults fully vaccinated, but debate on what’s next such as a booster shot is far from over as Israel gets unexpected data and WHO warns against an “ill-advised” third dose.
According to the Cyprus News Agency, the Republic of Cyprus was close to reaching 70% in fully vaccinated adults against the novel coronavirus, with the health ministry’s Monday figures showing 68.5% had completed their vaccination courses.
Last month EU Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides said the bloc had reached an important milestone of 70% of adults having received a first dose and 57% fully vaccinated, while projections suggested the Union would reach its goal by the end of the summer.
The news of Cyprus inching closer to the target came as health experts and state officials have been debating whether a third or booster shot ahead of the flu season should be administered later this year.
World Health Organization officials believe a rush for Covid-19 boosters might be premature for wide-spread vaccinations but have not entirely shut down the idea for special categories.
Kate O'Brien, WHO’s director of immunization, vaccination, and biologics, has argued it might be too early to push for wide spread booster shots, citing the lack of even a first dose in some parts of the world.
Cypriot health experts have recently gone on television programs saying they favored a third dose at least for special groups, such as the elderly and people at higher risk.
But media reports said the WHO official went on to say the discussion over a booster shot was less about “boosting” and more about whether a “third priming dose” was needed.
“If we’re not really grounded in that clarity, we’re going to be in a place where we have forever uncertainty about what actually should be done,” O’Brien said according to Stat News.
A number of governments went ahead or are going forward with decisions to boost vaccinated immunity, including Israel that has been at the forefront in the battle against the pandemic.
But Israeli media this week said the country’s health ministry data showed 14 Israelis have been infected with Covid-19 a week after receiving a booster shot.
According to a Channel 12 news report, 11 of those infected were over the age of 60, with two of them later being hospitalized, while the other three received their third dose “because they are immunecompromised.”
O’Brien said that for some vaccines there was evidence coming forward “more about people who are having a failure of the primary series [of shots] and evidence on whether or not a third priming dose would help.”
A couple of reports this week suggested the mRNA vaccine from Pfizer and BioNTech “may be less effective than Moderna” against the delta variant of the coronavirus, while both vaccines remain effective at preventing Covid hospitalization.
It has also been reported that pharmaceutical partner companies Pfizer and BioNTech plan to begin tests this month to determine if an altered form of its Covid-19 vaccine can better protect against the far more contagious Delta variant.
In late May, the European Commission signed a third contract with BioNTech and Pfizer, reserving on behalf of EU Member States additional doses “of the current vaccine and of a vaccine adapted to variants.”