While COVID Vaccine Supplies Are Limited, Should Anyone Be Getting a Second Dose?

To curb the spread of coronavirus, some experts are advocating for a vaccination strategy that prioritizes giving as many people as possible their first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna COVID-19 vaccines, instead of giving second doses to half as many people.

That stance is reflected in President-elect Joe Biden’s plans, announced earlier this month, to order the immediate distribution of almost all available doses of the COVID-19 vaccines. The plan is in stark contrast to the current strategy that’s been employed by the Trump administration, which has been to hold onto vaccine stock to make sure that anyone who is vaccinated with a first dose will be able to receive a second dose.

Biden’s announcement came amid growing frustration with the sluggish speed of the current vaccine rollout. Christopher Gill, a Boston University School of Public Health professor of global health, is one of the experts advocating for giving as many first doses as possible. “Basically, [Biden’s strategy] prioritizes getting the vaccine into more people, rather than ensuring the maximal immune response at an individual level,” Gill says.

The Brink asked Gill, an infectious disease specialist with vaccine development expertise, how well the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines work after a first dose and why he believes that the best option at this time is to maximize the number of people who are given first-dose vaccines.

Adapted for The Brink from an article originally published by BU School of Public Health.

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