Here’s what it was like to get one Covid shot in Nigeria, where less than 3% are vaccinated, and a second in the UK, where people are already getting access to booster shots

A masked woman administers a shot to a man in front of a wall with chipped paint.
The author, Paul Adepoju (left), got his first Covid vaccine shot in Nigeria. The center was so crowded that there was no room to sit down.

  • In Nigeria, less than 3% of the population has gotten the Covid vaccine. In the UK, 68% of people are fully vaccinated.
  • Life is returning to normal in both places – but in Nigeria, most people must make do without the vaccine.
  • There’s a growing push to speed up vaccine access in poor countries.

I got my first COVID-19 vaccine shot in Nigeria in September.

I arrived at the health center at 5 in the morning and waited in line for hours. When it was finally my turn, the center was so packed with people that I had to stand up while getting my shot. Still, I considered myself lucky, since the day’s supply often runs out.

A couple of weeks later, I was in the UK.

On Oct. 1, I strolled into an empty walk-in vaccination site and got my second dose. There was no registration system to navigate, no wait, and no risk that the center would run out of vaccine shots.

The two experiences were totally different and offered a stark illustration of how uneven the path out of this now two-year-long epidemic has been for those in Western countries versus places like West Africa.

A hand holds up a vaccination card with empty chairs in the background.
The author got his second shot at Turreff Hall, a UK vaccination site in the town of Donnington.

In Nigeria, a country of 200 million people, just over 7 million vaccine doses have been administered, according to the World Health Organization. The most progress has been made in Lagos, a city that’s home to over 21 million people, where nearly 474,000 residents have been fully vaccinated.

In the UK, around three quarters of the population has received at least one vaccine dose, and 68% are fully vaccinated. A booster shot is already available to those who qualify.

Thanks to the large number of fully vaccinated individuals across America, the UK, and other countries that have more than enough doses to vaccinate all their residents, stadiums, nightclubs, schools, comedy clubs, churches and others are returning to normal. Even as mask and vaccine mandates are still polarizing, the vaccine is available at supermarkets and health centers to whoever wants it.

The picture is very different in Nigeria, where vaccine doses have been trickling in from the COVAX vaccine-sharing facility. Things are largely back to normal – mostly because people don’t have much of a choice. In January, the World Bank predicted that the pandemic will contribute to 10.9 million more Nigerians entering poverty in the next year.

Nigeria has said that a vaccination will soon be mandatory for civil servants. Schools have resumed full in-person classes. Tightly packed churches are also holding multiple services weekly and wedding parties are fully back at venues nationwide without vaccine requirements.

Meanwhile, people are still dying of Covid in Nigeria. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), there have been 207,979 confirmed cases of COVID-19 with 2,756 deaths. (That’s also the case in the UK, where officials just announced 45,066 new Covid cases and 157 additional deaths.)

But due to inadequate, and the high cost, of testing, Nigeria’s numbers likely mask the true scale of the pandemic.

On October 14, the WHO announced that six in seven COVID-19 infections go undetected in Africa.

“With limited testing, we’re still flying blind in far too many communities in Africa,” said Dr Matshidiso Moeti, the WHO’s Regional Director for Africa, said in a statement. “Most tests are carried out on people with symptoms, but much of the transmission is driven by asymptomatic people, so what we see could just be the tip of the iceberg.”

A long, stressful wait

In Ibadan, Nigeria’s third-largest city, the Alegongo Primary Healthcare Center opens at 9am. People begin lining up at around 5 in the morning, hopeful that they will get a Covid vaccine. The whole process might take five hours.

Until early September, the center said they could only administer 50 shots a day, and only to people over the age of 18. On most days, if you arrived after 6:30 in the morning, you would be out of luck and would have to try again another day. Now, the center has about 100 doses per day to give out.

A row of people, some masked and some not, sit on a bench as others stand nearby.
The Alegongo Primary Healthcare Center in In Ibadan, Nigeria, where the author got his first vaccine shot.

Taiwo Ilori, a middle-aged businessman who I met on line, said it had taken him three tries to get his elderly parents vaccinated, and only then did he try himself.

It’s not enough to simply show up. If you want a vaccine, you must first sign up on the vaccination registration portal. There’s no choice as to which vaccine you will get.

Health workers on night shifts at the center are often saddled with the task of arranging people on the queue and trying to enforce social distancing. Meanwhile, the facility also provides emergency services, routine care for illnesses like malaria and typhoid, care of pregnant women, and immunization shots.

In my case, and from what I’ve heard from others, there was no information given about possible side effects, how the vaccine works, or post-vaccine shot monitoring.

“It is very calm here”

Turreff Hall in Donnington, a UK city 120 miles northwest of London, has been serving as a COVID-19 vaccination center for the area. Here, over 70% of people aged 12 and over have been fully vaccinated. In some age groups, more than 97% have been fully vaccinated.

It has been very easy to get vaccinated at the historic hall, which was built during the Second World War by the American army. You can show up anytime between 9am and 4pm.

A crowd of people carry a coffin with signs that read "Drop the Patent" and "Stop blocking global Covid vaccines"
A protest against Covid-19 vaccine patents on October 12, 2021 in London.

When I visited at around 12:40pm on Oct. 1 – it happened to be Nigeria’s Independence Day – I found an open space with empty chairs that were spaced a socially-distanced length apart.

The employees running the site told me that since most everyone in the area had been vaccinated, only a few people, especially visitors and foreigners, now visit for the shots. When locals show up, it’s mostly those that qualify for booster doses.

“It is very calm here these days even though we have sufficient vaccine doses,” one of the officials said.

Right away, I was given my vaccination shot and told about possible side-effects. Afterwards, I was told to wait for 15 minutes in one of the chairs in case I experienced any post-vaccination complications.

I got the Pfizer vaccine, although the Moderna and AstraZeneca vaccines were also available at different sites nearby.

‘Ignoring a whole continent’

From early September, when universities prepared to begin their fall semester, there’s been a surge in Nigerian students travelling to the UK, as well as confusion around the vaccination rules.

Since February, anyone arriving from Nigeria and other African countries – even if they were fully vaccinated – was required to show a negative Covid test before boarding a UK-bound airplane, and then isolate for 10 days upon arrival and submit to another two Covid tests.

This week the UK government announced that fully-vaccinated travelers from Nigeria would no longer be required to self-isolate or take multiple Covid tests.

Two men walk past a billboard that says "No Card / No Entry"
Pedestrians walk past a billboard in Benin City in southern Nigeria on Sept. 16, 2021.

The UK estimates that around 190,000 people born in Nigeria live in the UK, including around 10,000 university students.

“I was fully vaccinated before I came to the UK but it was very embarrassing to find out that the vaccination I received meant nothing to officials here,” a Nigerian student in Birmingham, who asked not to be referred to by name, told me. During her quarantine, she said, she received a check-in visit from the UK’s National Health Service. “At some point they indirectly threatened me when they said a Nigerian woman and her two kids were deported because they were not at home when the officials visited their address.”

At the recently held General Assembly of the United Nations, several African leaders urged countries like the UK to urgently stop vaccine hoarding and share with African countries.

Ghana President Nana Akufo-Addo noted that around 900 million people in Africa need to be vaccinated in order to get to a level of vaccine coverage that the UK and other Western countries have attained.

This week, the head of the World Health Organization Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told CNN that Western countries should delay administering booster shots until people around the world have access to the vaccine.

“To start boosters is really the worst we can do as a global community,” he said. “It is unjust and also unfair because we will not stop the pandemic by ignoring a whole continent, and the continent that doesn’t have any manufacturing capacity of other means.”

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UnitedHealth is setting its sights on hospitals

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Capsules of molnupiravir, an antiviral drug developed by Merck and Ridgeback Biotherapeutics that could treat COVID-19
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A drugmaker backed by the company that owns Marlboro cigarettes plans to launch the world’s first plant-based COVID-19 vaccine

Coronavirus vaccine canada
A nurse is inoculated with the Pfizer/BioNTEch coronavirus vaccine in Toronto, Canada, December 14, 2020.

  • A Japanese drugmaker plans to submit data for a plant-based COVID-19 vaccine to Canadian regulators.
  • The vaccine is made using a relative of the tobacco plant.
  • Medicago, which is making the vaccine, is part-owned by tobacco giant Philip Morris International.

The world’s first plant-based COVID-19 vaccine could reach Canada’s drug regulator by the end of the year.

Leading Japanese drugmaker Mitsubishi Tanabe Pharma said Tuesday that Medicago, its Quebec-based subsidiary that developed the shot, would apply for Canadian approval by the end of 2021, the Financial Times reported.

Marlboro cigarette brand manufacturer Philip Morris International part-owns Medicago, according to the Financial Times.

US market intelligence company Transparency Market Research predicted in September that the plant-based vaccine market, including non-COVID-19 vaccines, will be worth $2.34 billion by 2031.

A plant-based COVID-19 vaccine has never been approved before.

Toshifumi Tada, head of vaccine business development at Mitsubishi Tanabe Pharma, told the Financial Times that there was “value in expanding options for vaccinesm” and said that, like seasonal flu, he didn’t expect demand for COVID-19 vaccines to “suddenly disappear.”

“There is still much uncertainty regarding emerging variants,” Tada said, per the Financial Times.

Medicago’s plant-based COVID-19 vaccine has shown promise in trials.

Medicago said in May that, in a trial of 24,000 participants, those given its COVID-19 vaccine had 10 times as many antibodies as those who had previously caught COVID-19. The vaccine also gave no serious side effects in the study, it said.

The vaccine includes an adjuvant – an additive which enhances immune response – made by UK pharma giant GlaxoSmithKline, and was given as two doses, 21 days apart, Medicago said.

Medicago makes the plant-based vaccine by first inserting a genetic code into a bacteria. A close relative of the tobacco plant is then soaked in the modified bacteria. The code teaches the plant, Nicotiana benthamiana, to make a protein, which is then used in the vaccine, per scientific journal Nature.

Its fast manufacturing time could cut costs and make it easy to adapt to emerging coronavirus variants: It takes five to six weeks for Medicago to produce a clinical-grade vaccine this way, compared to four to six months for traditional lab methods, Nathalie Charland, Medicago’s senior director of scientific and medical affairs, told Nature

Plant-based vaccines also don’t require the ultracold storage temperatures, unlike Moderna and Pfizer’s COVID-19 shots.

Medicago said earlier this month that it planned to submit the vaccine to Japanese regulators by March 2022.

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Fully vaccinated people who previously had COVID-19 should be last in line for booster shots, experts say

pfizer booster shot
A health worker administers a dose of the Pfizer vaccine in the Palestinian neighborhood of Beit Hanina, on August 29, 2021.

  • Fully vaccinated people with a past COVID-19 infection may be last to get booster shots.
  • COVID-19 infection can trigger the immune response in a similar way to booster shots.
  • Therefore, these people have already had “three exposures,” one expert said.

Fully vaccinated people who previously had COVID-19 could be the last in line for boosters, experts say.

Fully vaccinated Americans with the highest risk of severe COVID-19 are eligible for an extra shot to boost immunity against the highly infectious Delta variant, which has mutations that help it avoid the immune response.

Immunity from COVID-19 vaccines starts to wane after about five months, according to real-world data, so eventually most people will likely need an extra dose.

But Dr. Akiko Iwasaki, immunologist at Yale University, told The Wall Street Journal that people who had been fully vaccinated and have previously caught the virus were “likely to be the last group that really needs the booster” because their immune system had had “three exposures” – two vaccine doses and one infection, all of which trigger an immune response.

Dr. Paul Offit, director of the Vaccine Education Center at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, said that people who were infected and vaccinated “just won the game,” per The Journal.

“I wouldn’t ask them to get a booster dose. I think they just got it,” he said, referring to the immune system boost from an infection. Offit, who is a member of the Food and Drug Administration’s advisory panel on vaccines, supports boosters for older adults but not for the general public at this time, The Journal reported.

Gary McClean, professor in molecular immunology at London Metropolitan University, told Insider that, theoretically, vaccinated people who previously had COVID-19 may not need a booster at all.

Vaccines produce an immune response to one part of the virus, called the spike protein, so you get “spike-specific” immunity, McClean said. Getting COVID-19 triggers an immune response to more than one part of the virus, which means your immune system should later be better prepared to fight variants that have mutations, he said.

But McClean also warned it would be “dangerous” for anybody to deliberately try to catch COVID-19 because of the risk of severe disease. Boosters are “generally safe” if given months after vaccination, he added.

Determining who needs a booster

Emerging evidence suggests that people who caught COVID-19 and were then fully vaccinated have the strongest antibody response of any group – stronger than people who have only been infected, or only been fully vaccinated, for example.

Paul Bieniasz, virologist at the Rockefeller University, said that catching COVID-19 after vaccination may not have the same effect. “It’s more variable,” Bieniasz told Insider.

In the future, we may need antibody tests to determine who needs extra vaccine doses, Bieniasz said.

We can’t yet reliably detect whether people have had an antibody response to COVID-19 either before or after vaccination. Protection also wanes over time, so the timing of an infection or vaccination matters too – people who had COVID-19 prior to vaccination may eventually need a booster.

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Florida issued a $3.5 million fine against a county that enforced COVID-19 vaccine passports

Ron DeSantis
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.

  • In April, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis banned government agencies from imposing vaccine passports.
  • On Tuesday, the state fined Leon County over $3.5 million for violating that policy.
  • Leon County fired 14 employees who did not show proof of vaccination by the October 1 deadline.

A Florida county was fined over $3.5 million by the state’s health department for violating Gov. Ron DeSantis’s executive order forbidding vaccine passports.

In a press release, the Florida Department of Health said it fined Leon County $3,570,000 for “714 instances of violating Florida’s ban on vaccine passports,” and the ultimate firing of 14 people who refused or failed to comply with a mandate to provide proof of vaccination.

“It is unacceptable that Leon County violated Florida law, infringed on current and former employees’ medical privacy, and fired loyal public servants because of their personal health decisions,” DeSantis said in the press release. “We will continue fighting for Floridians’ rights and the Florida Department of Health will continue to enforce the law. We’re going to stand up for Floridians’ jobs, stand up for Floridians’ livelihoods, and stand up for freedom.”

According to the health department, In July, Leon County required that their employees provide proof of vaccination to the human resources by October 1. Three days after the deadline, on October 4, the county fired 14 people for failing to comply with their requirements.

DeSantis signed an executive order in April banning state agencies and local businesses from issuing “vaccine passports.”

The three state lawmakers who represent Leon County have criticized the fine, WCTV reported.

“We can only move past this pandemic by ensuring everyone eligible is vaccinated to keep Floridians safe,” said Representative Ramon Alexander.This is an overreach of state government and the Governor has gone too far.”

Leon County did not respond to Insider’s request for comment, but County Administrator Vince Long told WCTV that “there is a genuine disagreement about the applicability of the statute and rule, and the County will enforce its rights using any remedies available at law, if necessary.”

In a press briefing on Tuesday, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said DeSantis’s announcement to fine the county alongside Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s executive order banning vaccine mandates “fit a familiar pattern that we’ve seen of putting politics ahead of public health.”

“Over 700,000 American lives have been lost due to COVID-19, including more than 56,000 in Florida and over 68,000 in Texas. And every leader should be focused on supporting efforts to save lives and end the pandemic,” Psaki said. “Why would you be taking steps that prevent the saving of lives, that make it more difficult to save lives in – across the country or in any state?”

This isn’t the first time DeSantis has tried to impose measures that ban COVID-19 policies. Last month, a judge ruled the school districts in the state could impose mask mandates, stating that DeSantis did not have the authority to issue an order banning them from doing so.

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The needle-free COVID-19 treatments undergoing testing right now

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Welcome to Insider Healthcare. I’m healthcare editor Leah Rosenbaum, and today in healthcare news:

If you’re new to this newsletter, sign up here. Comments, tips? Email me at lrosenbaum@insider.com or tweet @leah_rosenbaum. Let’s get to it…


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Finley Martin, 14, gets a shot of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at the First Baptist Church of Pasadena Friday, May 14, 2021, in Pasadena, Calif.
Finley Martin, 14, gets a shot of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at the First Baptist Church of Pasadena Friday, May 14, 2021, in Pasadena, Calif.

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Kids ages 5-11 could start getting Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine next month. Here’s what to know and how to get your child a shot.

Finley Martin, 14, gets a shot of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at the First Baptist Church of Pasadena Friday, May 14, 2021, in Pasadena, Calif.
Finley Martin, 14, gets the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at the First Baptist Church of Pasadena, on May 14, 2021 in California.

  • Pfizer has formally asked the FDA to authorize its COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use among kids ages 5 to 11.
  • A doctor who helped run Pfizer’s vaccine trial told Insider he wants his kids to be “first in line.”
  • Here are the answers to common questions parents might have about the vaccine.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

On Thursday, Pfizer formally requested that Food and Drug Administration authorize its COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use among kids ages 5 to 11. The move sets the stage for vaccines to become available for that group next month.

“With new cases in children in the US continuing to be at a high level, this submission is an important step in our ongoing effort against COVID-19,” Pfizer wrote on Twitter.

The FDA has tentatively scheduled a meeting on October 26 to review Pfizer’s request.

While adults and teenagers have been benefitting from vaccine protection for months, young kids have had few options beyond masks and social distancing in the face of the Delta variant and while returning to school in person.

“Delta has made COVID a pediatric problem,” said Dr. Andrew Pavia, pediatric infectious disease specialist at the University of Utah.

But if all goes well and the government green-lights Pfizer’s shot, here’s what parents will need to know.

How can I be sure the vaccine is safe?

covid vaccine empty pharmacy
An empty vaccine waiting area at a Walgreens in Miami Beach, Florida.

Pavia has served on advisory groups that review and suggest improvements to the US vaccine safety system – “I’ve been under the hood,” he said.

The COVID-19 vaccine, he added, “isn’t brand new – this isn’t understudied.”

So far, Pfizer’s vaccine has been administered to more than 230 million Americans and has proven safe in teenagers, Pavia explained. Another factor that should reassure parents is that the US has a robust reporting system for detecting vaccine safety issues and side effects.

“It’s been able to detect very rare side effects very effectively,” Pavia said. He gave the example of myocarditis, inflammation of the heart muscle.

“Myocarditis in women occurs with a frequency of about two to five per million, and our safety systems are good enough to pick something up that’s that rare,” Pavia said.

Dr. Simon Li, too, has peered behind the curtain. He’s a principal investigator helping run the vaccine study on kids in New Jersey alongside Pfizer, and an associate professor of pediatrics at Rutgers.

“The studies that are being done have been extremely, extremely cautious and careful and very well run,” Li said.

Li’s own kids are 4, 8, and 10, so not old enough to get the shots yet. The only reason he hasn’t enrolled then in a vaccine study, he said, is that his role with Pfizer prohibits him from doing so.

“When it comes out, I’ll be first in line” Li said of vaccinating his children.

Is the Pfizer shot for children the same one adults get?

Not exactly. The kids’ vaccine is a two-shot formula, but it comes in smaller doses. Pfizer gave 30-milligram doses to adults, but 5- to 11-year-olds are receiving less than half of that.

Li likened the process to the comparatively small doses of other medicines, like Tylenol, that we give children. Children don’t need the same dosage because they are smaller than adults and because their bodies process drugs differently.

“It’s size and their ability to break down and react,” Li said.

Should I give my kid an over-the-counter medicine like ibuprofen before their shot?

This Dec. 18, 2019 photo shows generic acetaminophen capsules in Santa Ana, Calif.  A fight is coming to California over whether to list acetaminophen,  one of the world's most common over-the-counter drugs as a carcinogen, echoing recent high-profile battles for things like alcohol and coffee. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)
Generic acetaminophen capsules.

Some doctors say that taking pain medication to dim potential vaccine side effects isn’t a big deal. But other experts and the CDC recommend against taking it, since “it is not known how these medications might affect how well the vaccine works.” (A caveat: If your child takes regular medication for another reason, they should maintain their normal routine.)

Side effects are a sign that your body is learning how to respond to the virus and building immunity. While there’s not research pain medicine would interrupt that process, the CDC is erring on the side of caution.

Once his kids can get the shots, Li said, “I will not be giving them anything – I want them to have that full immune reaction to build immunity against the virus.”

I heard Moderna’s vaccine is more effective than Pfizer’s. Should my kids wait?

There is not yet data on how well Moderna’s vaccine works among children, but real-world study published in the New England Journal of Medicine last month found that among adults, Pfizer’s vaccine had an efficacy rate of 88.8%, compared to Moderna’s 96.3%.

Li says the difference is tiny compared to the risk of leaving your child unvaccinated for weeks or months while Moderna seeks FDA authorization. So it’s best not to wait.

“I would advise them to get vaccinated as soon as they can. Those differences are so small. That’s just silly,” he said.

Nearly 5.9 million children have tested positive for the virus since the start of the pandemic, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. COVID-19 deaths among children are uncommon – the CDC has recorded 650 so far. But there have been 5,217 cases of multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children, a rare but serious condition associated with COVID-19 in which body parts like the heart, lungs, brain, or other organs become inflamed.

If my kid experiences vaccine side effects, who should I contact?

Kids in masks returning to school
Kids wear masks at school.

Call your pediatrician if your child has any issue – “they’ll be ready,” Li said.

Most pediatricians are by now well-versed in the vaccine and its side effects. They are also required to report any clinically significant side effects to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System, an early warning system run by the CDC and FDA.

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The WHO approved the world’s first malaria vaccine and said it could save tens of thousands of lives each year

malaria vaccine ghana
A nurse prepares a syringe containing a malaria vaccine at the maternity ward of the Ewin Polyclinic, the first Ghanian clinic to roll out the malaria vaccine Mosquirix or RTS,S, in Cape Coast, Ghana, on April 30, 2019.

  • The World Health Organization on Wednesday recommended the “world’s first” malaria vaccine.
  • The approval is based on results from an ongoing campaign in Ghana, Kenya, and Malawi.
  • Malaria kills about 400,000 people a year, nearly all of them living in sub-Saharan Africa.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

The World Health Organization on Wednesday recommended the “world’s first” malaria vaccine.

“This long-awaited #malaria vaccine is a breakthrough for science, child health and malaria control. Using this vaccine in addition to existing tools to prevent malaria could save tens of thousands of young lives each year,” WHO’s Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said, according to a tweet from the international organization.

The approval is based on results from an ongoing campaign in Ghana, Kenya, and Malawi that vaccinated more than 800,000 children in the last two years, The New York Times reported on Wednesday.

malaria vaccine ghana
A baby receives a malaria vaccine from a nurse at the maternity ward of the Ewin Polyclinic, the first Ghanian clinic to roll out the malaria vaccine Mosquirix or RTS,S, in Cape Coast, Ghana, on April 30, 2019.

Malaria kills about 400,000 people a year, nearly all of them living in sub-Saharan Africa.

hands hold a malaria vaccine
Health officials prepare to vaccinate residents of the Malawi village of Tomali on December 11, 2019, where young children are test subjects for the world’s first vaccine against malaria.

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BioNTech’s CEO says the world might need new COVID-19 vaccines by mid-2022 to protect against emerging variants

BioNTech CEO Ugur Sahin
Ugur Sahin, CEO and co-founder of German biotech firm BioNTech.

  • Future COVID-19 variants could evade current vaccines and boosters, the CEO of BioNTech told the FT.
  • We may therefore need new COVID-19 vaccines my mid-2022, Ugur Sahin said.
  • BioNTech and Pfizer codeveloped the US’ only fully approved COVID-19 vaccine.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

The world may need new COVID-19 vaccines by mid-2022 to protect against coronavirus mutations, BioNTech CEO Ugur Sahin told the Financial Times on Sunday.

Sahin told the publication that current COVID-19 vaccines, including the one BioNTech developed with Pfizer, worked against circulating variants, such as the highly contagious Delta variant, and that booster shots could give further protection.

But future variants of the virus could evade the immune response these vaccines produce, Sahin told the Financial Times.

“Tailored” COVID-19 vaccines could therefore be needed, he said.

“This year [a different vaccine] is completely unneeded. But by mid next year, it could be a different situation,” Sahin said.

“This virus will stay, and the virus will further adapt,” Sahin told the FT. “We have no reason to assume that the next generation virus will be easier to handle for the immune system than the existing generation. This is a continuous evolution, and that evolution has just started.”

Vaccination programs around the world will have two separate focuses next year: one for vaccinated people needing booster shots, and another for unvaccinated people with less access to shots, Sahin said.

Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said in late September on ABC News’ “This Week” that life would return to normal within the next year, despite new COVID-19 variants continuing to emerge.

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Israel tightened its COVID vaccine pass to require a booster shot to get into most indoor venues

People sitting around a table in a restaurant requiring Israel's green pass huddle to take a group selfie.
People eat at a restaurant in Jerusalem, on March 7, 2021, after Israel reopened restaurants, bars and cafes to vaccinated “green pass” holders.

  • Israel plans to change its vaccine passports soon to require booster shots.
  • Its “green pass” is due to become invalid if a booster shot is not taken within six months of the second dose.
  • Isreal is the first country to add boosters to its vaccination certificates.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Israel is changing its vaccine passport rules to require booster shots before letting people access most indoor venues.

It is the first country to require a booster for a vaccine certification, per the Associated Press.

Under new rules, the access allowed by having two doses of vaccine will expire after six months. Then, people will need to prove they had a booster shot.

The country is due to reset its “green pass,” a certificate of COVID-19 immunity that grants access to non-essential indoor venues like shops, restaurants, cultural events, gyms, in the next couple of days, Haaretz reported.

Those over the age of 12 without a booster shot will see their green pass privileges revoked once six months has passed since their last shot.

Those who do not receive a booster can instead access venues with a negative PCR or antigenic test or proof that they had COVID-19 and recovered in the past six months, per a Health Ministry press release.

As of Monday, over 3.5 million of Israel’s 9.3 million citizens had received a third dose of vaccine, per Health Ministry data. Over 64% have received at least two doses of vaccine, per Our World in Data.

a graph shows a breakdown of doses received by age group in Israel
Percentage of vaccination received by dose and age group in Israel

The country’s health ministry was set to issue the updated passes on Sunday but because of a technical glitch, the previous passes are due to remain in effect for the next few days, per Haaretz.

Israelis held protests around the country against the move on Sunday, per the Associated Press.

People's hands holding concert tickets and phaones displaying Israel's green pass.
Attendees show off their “green passes” as they arrive at a concert in Tel Aviv on March 5, 2021.

Israel started rolling out its booster program in late July, gradually expanding eligibility, which as of Monday covered all those aged 12 and over.

Early studies on the boosters suggested that older Israeli adults were less likely to develop severe COVID-19 after getting the booster. Experts have warned that real-world studies carry limitations, Insider’s Andrew Dunn reported.

Some scientists have argued that it was too soon to roll out boosters for the general population. A US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) panel decided to recommend booster shots to those over 65 and people who are particularly vulnerable to COVID-19, but not the whole population.

Last month, Israel’s vaccine czar warned that the country should prepare for the rollout of a fourth dose.

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