President Joe Biden and other political leaders have repeatedly stressed the perceived importance of receiving booster vaccination shots in an effort to stop the spread of COVID-19 and its variants.
Some scientists are now worried, however, that too many shots could have an unintended negative consequence.
Experts debate benefits and risks of fourth dose
As the Daily Wire reported, critics believe that it is possible for multiple boosters to reduce an individual’s natural immune system, thus making them more vulnerable to the pandemic virus.
These concerns have come to the forefront amid an ongoing debate in Israel regarding the government’s stance on recommending or requiring a fourth dose — or a second booster shot — for all citizens.
As it stands, an Israeli medical panel has recommended a four-dose course for health care workers, those over 60 years old, and anyone deemed particularly vulnerable to complications related to COVID-19.
Thus far, the government has not recommended additional booster shots for those in any other category.
According to The New York Times, the panel cited evidence of waning immunity following the third shot, ultimately concluding that the benefits of limited approval for a fourth shot would likely outweigh the risks.
“In order to ascertain if a fourth vaccine is needed”
Not all experts agree with the panel’s determination, including scientists who warn of so-called immunity system fatigue by which the body’s own immune system can become weaker and thus less effective in warding off infection.
Such critics had expressed hope that additional research would provide more conclusive evidence. At least for now, the Israeli government is shying away from widespread mandates for a second booster dose.
CNBC offered some insight into one of those studies, which is being conducted at Israel’s Sheba Medical Center and involves 150 health care workers.
A spokesperson said that its goal is to “zero in on efficacy of the vaccine in producing antibodies, and safety, in order to ascertain if a fourth vaccine is needed in general.”
Israel has been at the forefront of the global push for vaccination and was among the first nations to recommend boosters shots. If the latest recommendation of a fourth shot catches on, Israel might also lead the way in calling for additional doses as the virus inevitably continues to spread.