• Fri. Sep 17th, 2021

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Covid-19 booster shots: Will we need them and how would they work?

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People receive a covid-19 vaccine in Cologne, Germany

Sascha Steinbach/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

AS THE UK and some other wealthy countries edge towards a fully vaccinated adult population, a new question is being asked: will people need booster vaccines against covid-19?

The answer depends on three unknowns: how quickly immunity fades, whether current vaccines protect against existing and future coronavirus variants, and whether booster shots actually work. There are also issues of vaccine nationalism and equity to consider (see “Boost or bust?”).

Booster vaccines are routinely used for some infectious diseases, either to top up immunity or to update it for new …