Healthcare & Pharmaceuticals

EU drug regulator expresses doubt on need for fourth booster dose

2 minute read

The exterior of EMA, European Medicines Agency is seen in Amsterdam, Netherlands December 18, 2020. REUTERS/Piroschka van de Wouw

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Jan 11 (Reuters) - The European Union's drug regulator on Tuesday expressed doubts about the need for a fourth booster dose of COVID-19 vaccine and said there is currently no data to support this approach as it seeks more data on the fast-spreading Omicron variant.

"While use of additional boosters can be part of contingency plans, repeated vaccinations within short intervals would not represent a sustainable long-term strategy," the European Medicines Agency's Head of Vaccines Strategy, Marco Cavaleri, told a media briefing.

The EMA official raised concerns that a strategy of giving boosters every four months hypothetically poses the risk of overloading people's immune systems and leading to fatigue in the population.

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Cavaleri also said more data on the impact of the new variant on vaccines and a better understanding of the evolution of the current wave were needed to decide whether an Omicron-specific vaccine was needed.

"It is important that there is a good discussion around the choice of the composition of the vaccine to make sure that we have a strategy that is not just reactive ... and try to come up with an approach that will be suitable in order to prevent a future variant," he said.

The EMA said it was currently in conversation with vaccine developers in case there is a need for an updated vaccine but added that any such change would need to be coordinated globally.

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Reporting by Mrinalika Roy and Pushkala Aripaka in Bengaluru; Editing by Alex Richardson and Catherine Evans

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