Immunity gained by vaccination or natural immunity following infection is not permanent, member of the advisory scientific committee of experts on COVID-19 and Pediatrics Lecturer at European University Cyprus Zoi Dorothea Pana has told CNA, noting that the scientific community believes that at least one booster vaccine dose should be administered at a reasonable time in order to enhance and prolong people’s immunity.
In statements to CNA on the likelihood of a third vaccine dose against COVID-19 Pana said that the scientific community’s effort is to vaccinate in a timely manner people in order to turn the pandemic into an endemic situation.
Asked about to comment on statements by Pfizer for a booster shot of the vaccine in 9 months, Pana said that “the truth is that scientists do not yet know whether the antibodies formed are neutralizing nor whether the lack of antibodies presence also means lack of immunity.”
She expressed the point of view that “at least one booster shot should be administered at an appropriate and reasonable time in order to enhance and prolong our immunity next year, something which we do any away with the flu virus.” Until the virus diminishes worldwide it is likely that we will need to vaccinate against it every year or at a regular interval, she said.
“The booster shot is something hotly debated in scientific circles and it is one of the key questions the European team of scientists taking part in VACCELERATE, the new European Commission programme, in which Cyprus takes part, has set and wants to have a quick answer, that is to say when and to whom should the booster shot administered in order to achieve a decline and not a surge (of the virus) next year,” Pana pointed out.
Studies will take place immediately, under the European Commission’s aegis and with the participation of Cyprus, she said, adding that debate takes place on whether interchanging the vaccines used could help. She noted that relevant studies are already ongoing abroad and the information they will come up with will help understand what happens.
Replying to a question as to when answers will be provided, Pana said the first answers should be available during the summer so that “as Cyprus we can prepare for the coming year.”
She also said that during the summer more information will become available on the vaccination of children, which “is another very important aspect.”
The expert explained that during the first vaccination phase in Europe, the goal was to reduce serious illness and deaths, adding that “if we now want to achieve herd immunity, it is likely that our vaccination strategy should be extended as is the case with other infectious diseases which cause pandemics.”
She also stressed the importance of global coordination in order to be able to achieve worldwide decline of the virus.
If we are not able to achieve this soon, the more the virus changes it will be able to cause surges, she explained.
“It is only when in a coordinated manner we achieve a wall of immunity that we will be able to speak of a global virus recession,” she pointed out.
Referring to the safe pass introduced in Cyprus from Monday onwards, Pana assured that the goal is not for people to be inconvenienced or their rights to be violated. The primary right is health and during this period we want to find the right ways and to promote our country abroad as a safe country.
It was clear, she added, that safe pass is a transitional solution during a period of crisis at a time when we are trying to achieve a safety framework. This will not be achieved by chance but based on evidence and data which we have so far obtained from the pandemic, she said.