Regulators for the European Union have issued a warning that frequent COVID-19 booster shots could have an adverse affect on the immune system, and may not be a feasible means of combating the pandemic. The European Medicines Agency (EMA) reported that having repeat booster shots every four months could weaken the human immune system.
Marco Cavaleri, the EMA’s head of Biological Health Threats and Vaccine Strategy stated in a press briefing that boosters “can be done one or maybe twice, but we don’t think it should be repeated all the time.”
He continued, “We need to think about how we can move from the current pandemic environments to a more endemic one.”
Cavaleri further stated that by giving people consistent booster shots, there is a risk of overloading the immune system and creating fatigue in the population.
The current recommendation from the EMA is that countries should leave more time between boosters.
The EMA’s statements follow the method used for influenza vaccinations. At present, countries are offering second doses of the booster shots in order to combat the Omicron variant, despite little evidence to suggest this process works to tackle the virus and its spread.
Pfizer recently announced that their Omicron-specific vaccine should be available by early March, but the EMA stated that April is the soonest that an approval could be made on any new vaccines. Their process for approving vaccines takes three to four months.
The first case of the Omicron variant was discovered in the US in December 2021. The first sample was discovered on November 9th, meaning that Pfizer had less than a few months to develop their variant-specific vaccine if they intend to be approved by March or April.
Various issues have arisen since the start of the mass-vaccination mandates, such as allergic reactions within UK health staff receiving the vaccine. In late December, 2021, a New York Times editor died one day after receiving the Moderna booster shot. ABC affiliates have also reported that the COVID vaccine may have possible effects on male fertility.
The latest statements from the EMA suggest they are concerned over the lack of long-term data on the booster shot for COVID-19. Cavaleri expressed doubt over repeated boosters due to the lack of data supporting this approach as a means of moving through the pandemic.