Co-Inventor Of Rotavirus Vaccine, Two Former FDA Officials Take Stand Against Booster Mandates, Support Natural Immunity

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Dylan Housman Deputy News Editor
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Three top vaccine experts penned a Washington Post op-ed Thursday in opposition of booster vaccine mandates for people who have had COVID-19.

Dr. Paul Offit, the co-inventor of the rotavirus vaccine and a former member of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, and Drs. Luciana Borio and Philip Krause, two former Food and Drug Administration officials, wrote that requiring booster shots is “overkill at best” for Americans who have some level of natural immunity from a COVID-19 infection. At worst, they said, it’s an unnecessary risk.

A person’s vaccination status and whether they have previously recovered from COVID-19 are two key factors that shape how severe their bout with the virus will be, the three experts wrote. However, they argue that public policy has “largely neglected” natural immunity, including policies which mandate boosters for people who have had a prior infection.

Forcing boosters on the naturally immune who don’t want them is a waste of resources, according to the doctors. Much of the world is still under-vaccinated compared to the United States and its European peers, and many public health experts — including those at the World Health Organization — have advised against boosting healthy people in rich countries before vaccinating those in the developing world.

Offit, Borio and Krause also argued that allowing people to substitute prior infection for a booster is in-line with the best research. Plus, they say, it may reduce vaccine resistance, because convincing someone to get one or two shots is easier than convincing them to get three. (RELATED: CNN Medical Analyst Says Mask Mandate Should End Because ‘Science Has Changed.’ But Has It?)

“In some cases, people are losing their jobs because they believe — reasonably, it turns out — that, having been infected, they are well-protected against the coronavirus and are no more likely to transmit it than their vaccinated and boosted peers,” the authors wrote. “They prefer not to receive an unnecessary dose of a medical product.”

Borio is an infectious disease physician who was previously the acting chief scientist at the FDA, and Krause is the former deputy director of the agency’s Office of Vaccines Research and Review. Krause resigned his post last year, reportedly due in part to the CDC’s involvement with the COVID-19 vaccine approval process and pressure from the Biden White House to move forward with booster vaccinations prior to FDA approval.

A recent CDC study found that natural immunity outperformed vaccine immunity alone, but that maximum immunity was conferred in people who both survived prior COVID-19 infection and were vaccinated and boosted.