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Checking the need for COVID-19 boosters

Published: Apr. 2, 2021 at 1:33 PM CDT
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HASTINGS, Neb. (KSNB) - Even after we’re all vaccinated against COVID-19, will we also need booster shots?

One California drug company says yes, because the virus is still mutating and they are planning for the future.

If 2021 was the year when most of America got vaccinated against COVID-19, 2022 might be the year of the COVID-19 booster shot.

Gritstone Oncology Inc. is the Emeryville, California company that’s creating a second generation COVID vaccine.

CEO Dr. Andrew Allen says the goal is to create a booster shot that protects people from evolving variants.

“Everyone has heard about the U.K. variant, the South Africa variant,” said Dr. Allen. “We want to generate immunity that is effective across all these variants so that we stop having to worry about it quite as much as we do now.”

Allen says testing is underway. A group of 100 people have received the booster shot, as part of a phase one trial.

“It’s a wide range of folks,” he said. “The National Institute of Health are running this study, so this is Dr. Fauci’s team at NIAID.”

So who would benefit most from these covid-19 booster shots?

That question was addressed by Dr Lee Riley, who studies infectious diseases at UC-Berkeley.

“I think at risk groups, such as people who have underlying medical conditions, immune suppressive conditions, older individuals, they may need boosters sooner,” said Dr. Riley.

What remains to be known if if they will be once a year booster shots, or a one and done variety.

“That’s a great question,” said Dr. Allen. “The simple answer is we don’t know.”

Dr. Allen says ongoing research will answer that question by sometime next year, when he anticipates the booster shot will be ready for FDA approval.

“We’re not out of the woods yet, I hope we’ll get there soon. The first generation vaccines are a fantastic beginning, but I don’t think the story is complete at this point.”

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