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Are COVID-19 Boosters Really Needed?

By Keith Speights and Brian Orelli, PhD – Aug 27, 2021 at 6:20AM

Key Points

  • Booster doses for mRNA vaccines are on the way.
  • Waning protection provided by the vaccines factored into the federal government's decision to move forward with booster doses.

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The government probably prefers to be safe rather than sorry.

The federal government has cleared the way for booster doses for Americans who have received messenger RNA vaccines. These third doses should be received eight months after the second dose was administered. In this Motley Fool Live video recorded on Aug. 18, Motley Fool contributors Keith Speights and Brian Orelli answer a viewer's question about whether or not booster shots are really necessary.

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Keith Speights: Then we have The Fourth Horseman says that, "This is some great lobbying by Pfizer (PFE -0.16%) et al. I wouldn't mind getting a booster shot at all. But can one really say based on the data we have that it's necessary? I'm just sad I don't own this stock."

Brian, what do you think? Based on the data, are the booster shots necessary?

Brian Orelli: I think that the data that says that they are becoming necessary is that people that are vaccinated are getting sick. If most of the cases are mild cases that go away on their own, then you can maybe argue that we don't need to booster, although there's, of course, this whole long COVID thing where people who have COVID end up with symptoms that last beyond the initial infection and so I think that's going to be the case.

They promised that it's going to take a long time to actually figure out whether we need them, and so I think governments are going to make decisions fairly quickly, maybe even before we necessarily know if we need them because they'd rather be safe than sorry. So I think the vaccines are safe enough, that justifies maybe going in a little bit earlier than we would really need to.

I don't think that many people are getting hospitalized that are vaccinated, but there are some people. The other problem is probably only a subset of people actually need to get the booster, but unless you go test everybody's antibody levels, you're not going to know whether people actually need the boosters and that's not practical.

Basically, you're just going to give the booster shots to everybody and then some people will have not actually needed them and some people will, but it's easier to do it that way than to try to test everybody's antibody levels and only give it to the people who have low antibody levels.

Keith Speights owns shares of Pfizer. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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