Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine coronavirus
(Image: AP/Esteban Felix)

The world has fought many battles against the novel coronavirus since January 2020, losing more than 4.2 million people and vanquishing some of its spread. But the war is still raging and will do so for a long time. I predicted early last year, in a best-case scenario, that we would face a 36-month battle before COVID-19 could be considered under human control. We are only now in month 19.

Sure enough, the United States is again awash in virus, with the incidence of new COVID-19 cases having soared 131% in the third week of July. To be clear, the vaccines available work well—especially the Pfizer and Moderna products based on mRNA technology. But it is likely that waning vaccine efficacy, coupled with a stubborn one-fifth of the adult population refusing any immunisation, has opened the door for the dangerous mutant Delta variant of SARS-CoV-2 to wreak havoc among the vaccinated and unvaccinated alike.

That’s why the United States is going to need a third dose of mRNA vaccines; for the nation’s older population, the triple play is already overdue. “I don’t see the virus just disappearing,” said Stanley Plotkin, considered the godfather of vaccinology. The University of Pennsylvania vaccine inventor and immunologist told me that the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) should comply with requests from Pfizer, following Israel’s example, and immediately approve third-dose immunisation for adults over the age of 60, with general triple dosing for all Americans to follow. I agree.