A woman receives vaccine.
© Reuters
A woman receives a dose of the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine at a hospital in London.
Oxford University Professor Sarah Gilbert said the standard two-dose regimen is providing lasting protection for most people

She said the world's priority should be to get more vaccines to countries that have received limited supplies

Booster shots to extend the protection of Covid-19 vaccines may be unnecessary for many people, a leading scientist behind the AstraZeneca vaccine said on Friday.

Oxford University Professor Sarah Gilbert told The Telegraph newspaper that immunity from the vaccine was holding up well - even against the Delta variant. While the elderly and those who are immune-compromised may need boosters, the standard two-dose regimen is providing lasting protection for most people, she said.
"We will look at each situation; the immunocompromised and elderly will receive boosters,'' she said. "But I don't think we need to boost everybody. Immunity is lasting well in the majority of people."
The comments come as the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation, a panel of experts that advises the British government, is expected to make recommendations in the coming days on the scale of any booster programme.

Britain's medical regulator on Thursday said the Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines were safe to use as boosters.

UK Health Secretary Sajid Javid has said he expects a booster programme to start later this month.

Gilbert said the world's priority should be to get more vaccines to countries that have received limited supplies.
"We need to get vaccines to countries where few of the population have been vaccinated so far,'' Gilbert said. "We have to do better in this regard. The first dose has the most impact."
There is scientific consensus that the third dose is recommended for immunocompromised patients, including people fighting cancer or those who have received an organ transplant.

Studies show that these patients' immune systems do not produce a significant amount of antibodies when they receive the standard vaccine dosage.

While there is less data to back it up, the same principle applies to the elderly whose immune systems have been rendered less efficient by ageing.

What scientists are less convinced about is the usefulness of a booster shot for young people and people in good health. The data is just not there, say some.
"We aren't sure the benefits are significant," cardiologist Florian Zores said.

"We could do studies or think about target populations instead of offering the third dose to everyone," he said, adding that tests could determine who might - or might not - need a booster.

"That might be a bit smarter in terms of science," added the doctor, who is a member of French scientific integrity watchdog, On the Side of Science.