Dr. David Sanchez Talks About The Future Of COVID Boosters - Exclusive

At the beginning of the pandemic, it may have seemed improbable that we'd need more than a few COVID vaccine shots. In fact, a booster wasn't even on most people's radars. Flash forward to the present day, and now many Americans are receiving a second booster shot, with talk of an annual booster being needed.

To get a handle on the future of COVID boosters, Health Digest connected with Dr. David Sanchez, an Associate Professor of Pharmaceuticals at Western University of Health Sciences. In our exclusive interview with him, Dr. Sanchez talked about the science behind vaccines, eligibility for the fourth COVID vaccine dose, why vaccine boosters are so vital for community health, and the difference between vaccine skeptics and anti-vaxxers.

While so much about the future of COVID is still up in the air, Dr. Sanchez helped us drill down on what we can expect in the coming months and years when it comes to those COVID boosters.

Vaccines offer powerful protection — for a time

Dr. David Sanchez was one of the first people to receive a COVID vaccine, as he told Health Digest. "I was a participant in one of the clinical trials for the first COVID vaccines and was getting the immunization several months before they were officially approved," he said. "I wanted to do my part to bring better protection to our community."

The reason Dr. Sanchez enrolled in the trial — and studies vaccines — is because he believes in the science. "Vaccination is really powerful. It provides a strong immune response in the person that lasts for different amounts of time," he noted. And therein lies the rub: COVID vaccines, specifically, do not provide everlasting immunity, which Dr. Sanchez explained "is strong for a couple of months and then not as strong."

This is why a first booster dose is now available for everyone who received the first two shots in the series, with a fourth vaccine being on hand for immunocompromised individuals and people over 50. Dr. Sanchez believes everyone will soon have the opportunity to get the second booster in their arms.

Booster shots may be part of our new normal

To be fair, Dr. David Sanchez acknowledged, "I don't think anyone really knows what the future of COVID vaccines and boosters will be." He added, "The big vaccine producers are looking at our yearly flu shot as a foundation [for] what to do." With that in mind, he believes it could be important to "update the boosters" annually. This will help experts "better target the new variants circulating around the globe."

As far as the timing for this, he thinks the fall of 2022 is likely for that next booster to become widely available.

Looking ahead, Sanchez noted, "The question of how long we will need boosters is hard to predict." He pointed to other countries that are not controlling the virus as effectively as the U.S. "However, I am optimistic that soon we will have better tools — whether better vaccines or better antivirals — that can actually help us control COVID."

In other words, we may need boosters for quite some time in the future, but that future is looking brighter as we get a better hold on COVID.

Learn more about Dr. David Sanchez's research at the College of Pharmacy.