Booster shots? Conduct antibody test first

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KUCHING: A virologist has cautioned the government against across-the-board Covid-19 booster shots for everyone or mandatory third vaccine shots for high risk individuals.

Associate Professor in Virology of the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences Unimas, Dr Tan Cheng Siang, said the best way to determine if an individual required a third shot is through a quantitative antibody test which measured the amount of antibody against the spike of SARS-CoV-2.

“Give the booster shot only to those with proven low antibody levels,” he said when contacted on Tuesday (Sept 21).

Dr Tan pointed out that the recommendation for a third vaccine shot must also be evidence-based.

He said the booster shot should only be recommended for those who failed to respond to the first two vaccine shots, those who did not produce adequate amount of antibodies and those whose antibody level had waned to a non-protective level.

“The booster is not for everyone, it should not be generalised or made mandatory to a certain group of high-risk individuals.

“Bear in mind that those who have recovered from natural infections may also develop antibodies,” he explained.

Dr Tan also highlighted vaccine-related adverse reactions such as myocarditis and thrombosis associated with some vaccine types, adding the safety data on the administration of the third dose was weak and should be monitored closely.

“If an individual has a low antibody level and is eligible to receive the third vaccine shot, which vaccine brand should he or she be receiving?” he asked.

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