A fourth dose “would not bring any significant individual benefit”, writes the COSV, it could also be “interpreted as a signal of ineffectiveness of vaccination”.
In a notice dated January 19published on Wednesday, the French government’s Council for the Orientation of the Vaccine Strategy (COSV) writes that it considers “that the available data do not currently call for the implementation of a second vaccine booster”, otherwise called 4th dose, and this “although the question is made legitimate by the current context of strong viral circulation”.
“With the exception of severely immunocompromised people, for whom the COSV has already recommended the systematic injection of a second booster dose, a second booster dose would not bring any significant individual benefit. “, it is specified.
Why is the 4th dose not recommended?
In the opinion, the COSV recalls the effectiveness of the third dose against serious forms, even if it is less effective with regard to contagiousness. “For the moment, no consistent piece of information suggests that the protection against the occurrence of serious forms conferred by a vaccine booster decreases over time”, writes the council, which recalls that people vaccinated with a booster (3rd dose ) “represent only a small contingent of people being hospitalized or in intensive care”.
At the same time, he notes that the first studies on the effectiveness of a fourth dose, if they demonstrate an increase in antibodies against Covid-19 and protection against severe forms, seem to indicate that it does not protect extremely well against neither do infections.
On the other hand, “in the current context of very high circulation of the Omicron variant, the population could have developed sufficient protection to fight against future variants, which would attenuate the need for a second vaccine booster dose in the general population. “
Finally, the COSV explains that it fears that the introduction of a fourth dose today will generate “a counter-productive effect on the continuation of the current vaccination campaign”, because it could be “interpreted as a signal of ineffectiveness of vaccination by public opinion and thus induce a risk of disengagement with regard to vaccination perceived as too frequent.
Focus on the third dose first
This opinion on the fourth dose could however change in the future, specifies the COSV. A fourth dose could thus be recommended for people over the age of 80, “if the slight increase in the number of hospitalizations, which began in December, were to continue over the next few weeks”. Currently, “this signal does not seem sufficient to issue such a recommendation”.
Overall, the council expects more data concerning this fourth dose, for example on the level of protection conferred and according to age groups.
Finally, the COSV calls for, before setting up a new dose, to accelerate the current campaigns concerning reminders or the first doses, because “on the epidemiological level, the good conduct of the primary vaccination and vaccination booster campaigns would bring effects superior to the establishment of a second booster dose”.