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Vaccine professor: Covid booster doses could be halved

The professor said there was evidence that shows smaller booster doses were as effective as standard ones.

Sote-henkilöstölle annettiin Pfizerin koronavirusrokotteita Helsingissä 4. tammikuuta 2021. Sairaanhoitaja Paula valmisteli rokotteita takahuoneessa, eli sekoitti rokotetta ja keittosuolaliuosta valmiiksi ruiskuihin.
Health care worker prepares coronavirus vaccination doses. Image: Silja Viitala / Yle

If delivery delays of the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine continue, the second booster jab could be halved, increasing the amount of available doses by one-third, according to the director of the Vaccine Research Centre at the University of Tampere, Mika Rämet.

Rämet--a professor of experimental immunology who took leadership of the vaccine centre last April--made the suggestion in a recent blog post (in Finnish).

The professor said there was evidence that shows smaller booster doses were as effective as standard-sized ones. Antibody levels among immunised individuals are considerably higher than those who have had a coronavirus infection.

However, he acknowledged that the suggestion does not solve the original problem of shortages.

Rämet has previously explained that the research centre advises decision makers about new vaccines, but does not participate in policy-making.

Paper: THL to consider idea

The professor's suggestion is a sensible solution in solving the vaccine shortage, according to Hanna Nohynek, chief physician at the Institute for Health and Welfare (THL).

"We will consider the proposal," she told Helsingin Sanomat (in Finnish).

"It will still take a bit of research before we can go out and recommend halved doses," she said, according to the paper.

Last week Yle News' podcast All Points North spoke to THL's Nohynek, who said that if all goes to plan from here on in, it's possible that most people might be offered a vaccine before the Midsummer holiday.

You can listen to the full podcast via the embedded player here or via Yle Areena, Spotify, Apple Podcasts or your usual podcast player using the RSS feed.

Audio: Yle

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