Key opinion leaders provide some advice for the public regarding COVID-19 booster shots and look to the future of the pandemic.
Peter Salgo, MD: In the few moments we have left, I want to go around to each of you and get 1 recommendation or 1 prognostication about where we’re going to be a year from now. Donald, can we start with you?
Donald Alcendor, PhD: We have to make it a priority to vaccinate the unvaccinated. We also must address the inequities in vaccine distribution and manufacturing in the developing world. There will be a lot who remain unvaccinated, they need to practice CDC [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] mitigation strategies to prevent transmission.
Peter Salgo, MD: Jeff?
Jeff Goad, PharmD, MPH: Just to follow up: if pockets of unvaccinated spark outbreaks, the silver lining is that pockets of highly unvaccinated prevent outbreaks. You can do a lot in your community if we can’t get the entire globe vaccinated.
Peter Salgo, MD: Jason?
Jason Gallagher, PharmD, FCCP, FIDP, FIDSA, BCPS: A plus—if there is 1—to media panic over a new variant is that we’re paying attention to the rest of the world. Hopefully that will get more focus on vaccinating Africa and other parts of the world that aren’t nearly vaccinated enough to protect us all, including them.
Peter Salgo, MD: Angie, you’ve got the last word.
Angela Rasmussen, PhD: I can’t agree more with everything that was just said. I’d just like to reinforce the idea that global vaccine equity is altruistic, but it’s also selfish. If we don’t want to keep playing Whac-a-Mole with different variants, constantly responding to a crisis, it’s in our best interest to make sure that unvaccinated people—whether they live in a lower middle-income country or a wealthy country like the United States—have access to vaccines. It’s crucial that we do everything we can to get them vaccinated. At the population level, that’s our best protection.
Peter Salgo, MD: From my perspective, get vaccinated. If you’re in a high-risk, high-exposure position or if you’re high risk, get the booster. Let’s move forward. The more people who are immune to this, the fewer passages through human beings this virus goes through, the fewer mutations, the less we have to worry about. I want to thank all of you for this terrific discussion. You guys are just great. I’ve never heard Whac-a-Mole used to describe vaccine research, but it makes perfect sense to me.
I want to thank you at home for watching this Peer Exchange discussion. If you enjoyed the content, subscribe to our e-newsletters to receive upcoming Peer Exchanges and other great content right in your in-box. I’m Dr Peter Salgo. Thank you all, and I’ll see you next time.
Transcript edited for clarity.