Government keeping close eye on overseas trials of third booster shot

An international study has found Pfizer's vaccine wanes after four to six months so Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield is keeping a close eye on overseas trials of a third booster shot.

A Kiwi immunologist told Newshub he believes New Zealanders will receive a third booster shot in the near future but he hopes one super vaccine will trump them all.

The vaccine rollout is gaining speed with nearly 90,000 Kiwis now rolling up their sleeves a day and getting it done.

The demand is so high that the Government says New Zealand is setting vaccination records.

"Our rolling daily average has now gone beyond the peak for Canada, Australia, the UK and the United States," Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says.

The recent ramp-up to try stamp-out the Delta variant follows criticism that our vaccine roll-out has been too slow, but the questions have changed from what are we waiting for to have we got enough to keep up.

"I would say it's not a matter of running out, it's a matter of whether or not we are in a position where we need to have a little less demand than what we're seeing at the moment," Ardern says.

Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines are effective against Delta but both are known to wane over time.

Immunologist Professor Graham Le Gros says believes Kiwis will soon need a third booster shot.

"I think we will be faced with that next year absolutely," Prof Le Gros tells Newshub.

"We will see waning immunity and we will have to face a third booster shot. The question will be what will be the booster?" 

Israel started third booster shots in July for those aged over 30. The United States will start next month for the eligible population while France and Germany will prioritise the vulnerable.

The third booster option is something our government says it's watching closely.

"The experience in countries like Israel that have had wide vaccination of the population including from late 2020 and through the early part of 2021 is really helpful in this regard," dr Bloomfield says.

Prof Le Gros says while the Pfizer vaccine may not be the final solution it's the best protection right now and people shouldn't wait for anything better.

"No, you go and get your Pfizer, it's your best protection right now," he says.

"We want to keep you safe, it will stop you from going to hospital. It will stop your relatives from going to hospital."

Studies overseas have shown people who receive two different brands of the vaccine could receive better results.

"You're seeing some very interesting results coming out where people are actually better protected when they have two different vaccine shots, say AstraZeneca followed by Pfizer," Prof Le Gros says.

The advice from this expert is that we could be in this for the long run.

"We're hearing there's another variant coming out of Colombia," Prof Le Gros tells Newshub.

"It's not going to be fixed next year, it's going to be a long-term game so there will be more variants to come I'm afraid."

According to him, all hopes could lie on the development of one super vaccine to give much longer immunity.

Watch the full story above.