Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has signalled vaccine certificates will be made redundant early next year with the introduction of booster passports.
During a press conference last week, Andrews said twice-jabbed, “fully vaccinated” residents will require a third injection in a matter of months, and with it, proof they’re still “protected” against COVID-19.
“These sorts of [vaccine] passports are designed to do exactly that – they won’t be there forever,” Andrews said.
“I can’t say, as I stand here right now, how many—how long it’ll be on, how long it’ll be a feature of things. But, arguably, it won’t be a vaccine passport you’ll be showing in the first half of next year, it’ll be your booster passport to show that you’ve been to have your third jab and that you’ve still got the protection that comes from either AstraZeneca, Moderna, or Pfizer.”
Andrews’ comments come as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) ruled on Friday that they would not back a third shot of the Pfizer and BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccines for Americans under the age of 65 years.
FDA advisers voted 16-2 against the Biden administration’s plans to begin a third round of booster shots for people over the age of 16 years. A second vote returned a unanimous result of 18-0, agreeing that only individuals over 65 and the most vulnerable groups should receive a third dose after six months at least.
The committee later added that individuals at high risk of exposure should also be included.
The panel deemed Pfizer’s application for approval of a third booster to be insufficient, as the study included only 300 adults between the ages of 18-55 years.
Dr Michael G. Kurilla, a committee member and official at the National Institutes of Health said it’s unclear that everyone needs to be boosted, as only a subset of the population was clearly at risk of contracting a severe version of the virus.
White House chief medical adviser, Dr Anthony Fauci, also backed the FDA’s decision, saying the committee had not made a mistake in rejecting a third booster shot for all Americans.
Meanwhile, in the UK, booster jabs will be offered this week to about 30 million people, including over-50s, those with health conditions, and frontline health workers.
According to BBC News, the recommendation from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) comes amid concerns about waning “immunity.”
Health Secretary Sajid Javid said: “There is evidence that the protection offered by COVID-19 vaccines reduces over time, particularly older people who are at greater risk, so booster doses are an important way of keeping the virus under control for the long term.”
In their report submitted to the FDA, Pfizer argued that data from Israel revealed a third dose of the vaccine administered six months after the second dose restores protection from infection to 95%.
According to the company, Israel’s vaccination program administering boosters to the entire population show that a third shot “had a reactogenicity profile similar to that seen after receipt of the second primary series dose and restores high levels of protection against COVID-19 outcomes.”
But whatever protection a third shot seemingly offers also appears to be short-lived, as Israel’s national coronavirus czar has suggested injections may be required for “protection” every few months.
Earlier in September, Salma Zarka called for the country to begin making preparations for the administration of a fourth dose of the vaccine.
Zarka told The Times of Israel: “It seems that if we learn the lessons from the fourth wave, we must consider the [possibility of subsequent] waves with the new variants, such as the new one from South America.
“And thinking about this and the waning of the vaccines and their antibodies, it seems every few months — it could be once a year or five or six months — we’ll need another shot.”