Trinidad Health Authorities Still Cautious Regarding Fourth Booster COVID-19 Shot

(CMC) — Trinidad and Tobago health authorities Wednesday said it is too early to determine whether a fourth dose of the coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine would be needed for people amid reports that the two-US-based manufacturers were seeking approval for the fourth booster.

Chief Medical Officer, Dr Roshan Parasram, speaking at the weekly Ministry of Health news conference, told reporters that countries like Israel have already decided on providing a fourth booster shot to their citizens.

“We saw a statement from Pfizer saying that a fourth dose may be required, but it has not been fully assessed by the Safe Group of the WHO (World Health Organization) as yet. A pronouncement, as far as I am aware, hasn’t been made in that regard,” Dr Parasram said.

“So we hold and look at the data coming out of those countries that have begun to do fourth dosing. Look at what is happening. It is very unpredictable in terms of the Omicron…going forward, to determine if we will need a fourth dose, if and when and certainly timing,” he told reporters.

Pfizer and BioNTech have asked the US Food and Drug Administration to give the nod for a fourth dose of their COVID-19 vaccine for Americans 65 and older.

The companies cited data from Israel that suggested that the additional booster could curb infections and severe illness in the highest-risk age group.

In a release on Tuesday, Pfizer and BioNTech pointed to an array of recently published studies as early evidence suggesting “that effectiveness against both symptomatic COVID-19 and severe disease caused by Omicron wanes 3 to 6 months after receipt of an initial booster.”

Dr Parasram told reporters that more time is needed to determine how the immune system from the previous doses last.

“What we have to look at is the length of time our immune response has been lasting with three doses and I suppose only time will tell how long it will last, so we need some time to ascertain that even in Trinidad and Tobago,” he said.

“The antibodies study will give us some local information…post our booster, how long our immunity will last. So we are hoping to get some data even locally to answer that question, but I don’t think from our standpoint the data asset is complete to answer it with certainty,” Dr Parasram added.

Trinidad and Tobago has recorded 3,690 deaths and 133,000 infections from the pandemic over two years.