Unethical? Unnecessary? The booster debate intensifies

27 August 2021 Vol 373, Issue 6558


In Depth
Unethical? Unnecessary? The booster debate intensifies
By Gretchen Vogel
Science27 Aug 2021 : 949-950 Restricted Access
As United States reveals its plan to offer an extra dose of COVID-19 vaccine, equity and scientific questions abound.
As the extraordinarily infectious Delta variant of SARS-CoV-2 continues to spread around the world, vaccines’ powers are showing their limits. Although they are still extremely effective at preventing severe COVID-19, the tantalizing hope that the shots could block almost all infections—and squelch transmission—has evaporated. That has upended return to office and school plans, threatened economic recoveries, and spurred fresh political rows over mask and vaccination mandates. Now, amid new studies hinting that vaccine-induced immunity may be waning, policymakers and scientists are debating whether widespread booster shots could help or getting shots into the arms of the unvaccinated should remain the top priority. And many people wonder whether one booster will suffice or periodic COVID-19 vaccination will become the new normal, as it is for influenza.