The Quebec government’s decision to delay the second of two doses for the COVID-19 vaccines has prompted consternation and at least one lawsuit. Now it is pledging to deliver boosters within “a maximum” 90 days.
According to Dr. Richard Massé, the public health specialist who is advising the provincial vaccine co-ordination task force, putting off second doses by a few weeks will allow 500,000 at-risk people, mostly over the age of 70, to be vaccinated with the first dose between now and the end of March.
“That doesn’t mean everyone will have to wait 90 days,” Massé said, adding “yes, we will be giving a second dose to everyone.”
According to data gleaned from clinical trials, the efficacy of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines, both of which are being distributed in Quebec, reaches 92 per cent two weeks after the initial dose. The booster enhances that slightly, to about 94 or 95 per cent, and is believed to prolong immunity.
The data also shows a similar level of protection after 42 days, Massé said, adding “it doesn’t drop off to nothing the day after that, we know this from other vaccines that we work with.”
Given the urgency of the situations, reaching a larger number of vulnerable people is worth the downside of delaying boosters, he said.
This is a developing story, more to come…