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Toward the goal of ending the pandemic, what does the evidence show about boosting immunity for those already vaccinated versus prioritizing vaccine access worldwide?

This article was published on
August 18, 2021

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SciLine reaches out to our network of scientific experts and poses commonly asked questions about newsworthy topics. Reporters can use the video clips, audio, and comments below in news stories, with attribution to the scientist who made them.

SciLine reaches out to our network of scientific experts and poses commonly asked questions about newsworthy topics. Reporters can use the video clips, audio, and comments below in news stories, with attribution to the scientist who made them.

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What our experts say

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Expert Comments: 

Jesse L. Goodman, M.D., M.P.H.

The most serious impacts of this pandemic are severe illness, hospitalization, stress on health systems, and all those consequences for patients and their families. To address that, we really need to focus first on vaccinating the unvaccinated, both here in the U.S. and globally. Booster shots may help protect some people, particularly our most vulnerable individuals, but are far less likely to impact the overall curve of the pandemic.

Dorry Segev, M.D. Ph.D.

The only way to really deal with this virus is for every single person to be vaccinated effectively against the virus. Vaccinating effectively means boosters for people whose vaccine immunity has decreased, and it means first vaccinations all across the world. Balancing these is challenging but it’s important for us to focus on getting both of these goals accomplished.

Ali Ellebedy, Ph.D.

The virus flourishes in communities where vaccination rates are very low—that is where variants emerge.

Beth Kirkpatrick, M.D.

Worldwide equity in vaccine access is arguably the most important challenge we are facing in this pandemic. In addition to the enormous humanitarian issues in regions without vaccine access, the lack of vaccinations will permit the emergence of other new variants and will impede the global control of this pandemic. This makes booster shots in the United States a very challenging decision.  We must protect our own citizens, and at the same time show a similarly aggressive and steadfast commitment to get these vaccines to all populations throughout the globe.

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