COVID19: Vulnerable groups must get second booster

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Health experts advise people from vulnerable groups to get a second COVID-19 booster shot as soon as possible and not wait for the updated coronavirus vaccines expected in autumn.

In comments to Politis Radio, an assistant professor in Pharmacology at the University of Cyprus Medical School, Dr Nikolas Dietis, argued that vaccines, although still effective against new variants, their protection wanes after a few months.

“Vaccines are 90% effective against severe disease and hospitalisation; however, the issue is the time frame during which vaccines are effective.

“Effectiveness drops after two to five months. So, if you are in a vulnerable group, now is the time to take a second booster,” said Dietis.

Asked why the elderly and vulnerable should not wait for updated vaccines, Dr Dietis said these aren’t expected to be available before October.

“What’s more, we already know that countries such as the USA have put in massive orders for these vaccines, so it will take even longer for the newly updated vaccines to reach people in their 60s in Cyprus.”

He explained that in deciding to vaccinate with a second booster, people should always calculate the risk they are running.

“Currently, we are amid a new wave of COVID cases, and we are witnessing an increase in hospitalisations and deaths.

“I am one of the scientists who favour opening up the second booster rollout to ages under 60.”

Health authorities are offering a second booster to people over 60 who belong to vulnerable groups, such as immunocompromised patients.

According to the Assistant Professor, the most important drug available today for Covid19 is Paxlovid by Pfizer because it reduces the risk of hospitalisation to 90%.

“This drug prevents the virus from reproducing, and it is positive, but it has several interactions with other drugs.”

Meanwhile, asked whether experts were concerned over an increase in monkeypox cases worldwide, the expert said that the disease would not cause an outbreak the scale of the coronavirus.

He explained the monkeypox virus is transmitted through close contact, causing visible symptoms and making the disease easy to diagnose.

He further noted that monkeypox is similar to the smallpox virus, for which a vaccine is already available.

“There is medicine in the US that is being used, but we have no evidence of its clinical effectiveness.

“But we know it’s safe.

“The drug in question has no serious side effects, and we have used it for smallpox.”