Exciting news from the UK’s COV-BOOST study reveals that fourth booster doses of coronavirus vaccines can offer enhanced protection against the virus, particularly among those over 70 years old. However, experts warn that the benefits may only be short-lived and may not be sustainable in the long term.
In April 2022, the UK rolled out the fourth booster vaccine for those over 75 and the most vulnerable populations. The COV-BOOST study, which involved 133 participants, reported that the fourth vaccine dose was “well-tolerated” and effectively “boosted immunity.” Interestingly, the study found that the immune response after the fourth vaccination was similar, and perhaps even better than, the response after the third dose.
However, a trial published in The Lancet Infectious Diseases warned that the significant increase in spike protein antibodies observed after the fourth vaccine dose was likely to wane quickly, as was seen after the third dose. The trial involved participants aged 70 and above, who received either a Pfizer vaccine or a half dose of Moderna approximately six months after their third booster.
Although the findings of the COV-BOOST study are encouraging, further research is needed to assess the long-term benefits of the fourth booster vaccine. Nevertheless, this breakthrough provides a ray of hope for the elderly and vulnerable populations who are at a higher risk of severe COVID-19 illness.