Anti-Covid vaccination: what do we know about the side effects of the third dose?

Emmanuel Macron has started the countdown. Those over 65 have until December 15 to justify a booster dose to continue to benefit from a valid health pass. Since the Head of State spoke on Tuesday, appointments to obtain a third injection of the Covid-19 vaccine, available since September for this population, have experienced a boom. On average, nearly 100,000 people reserve a space each day according to data from industry leader Doctolib. They were still three times less at the beginning of the month.

Given the fifth wave that is coming, and given the loss of effectiveness of the serums about six months after their injection, an expansion is already planned for 50-64 years. Before the entire population? The debate is open. Doubts remain on the question. Furthermore, since the Moderna-designed serum was not recommended for people under 30 years of age by the Haute Autorité de Santé (HAS) due to a significant increased risk of myocarditis and pericarditis.

However, the knowledge about the third dose is improving day by day. So far, there is nothing to suggest that the booster dose is more dangerous than the previous two.

“Similar to the start of the vaccination campaign”

In its latest report, dated November 5, the National Drug Safety Agency lists “78 serious cases since the start of the booster shot.” But he reassures: “A specific signal has not been identified in people who received a booster dose. The profile of reported adverse effects is similar to that reported in priority elderly at the beginning of the vaccination campaign.” Mostly mild symptoms: fever, fatigue, mild muscle or joint pain …

For the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, the only one currently used for booster injections, about 4,282 new reports were made between October 15 and October 28. Among them, no more serious side effects, which may require treatment or even hospitalization. The proportion reached 19%, compared to 26% since the launch of the vaccination campaign in France at the beginning of the year.

The Israeli and American examples

These results confirm the first study by the US laboratory, on which the HAS was based in October to validate the use of a third dose. This, quite reassuring, reported a “tolerance of the Comirnaty vaccine [Pfizer-BioNTech, NDLR] generally satisfactory, generally similar to that observed after the administration of the 2nd dose “.

Observations in Israel, the first country to launch a withdrawal campaign, in July supported these conclusions. “Israeli safety data observed in real life, regarding the administration of a booster dose, although still limited in terms of follow-up and the number of injected doses, appears to show as of September 17 a general tolerance profile of the dose. Remember Generally comparable to that observed after the administration of the second dose of vaccine, “the HAS also detailed. At the beginning of October, in retrospect, some 3.2 million Israelis vaccinated with a third dose, only 19 had been identified Serious side effects according to local health authorities Furthermore, the link to the injection had not been proven every time.

Larger surveys now allow us to have confidence in the possible adverse effects of the booster vaccine. In the United States, engaged in this path since this summer, more than 12,500 vaccinated “triples” responded to a questionnaire about their post-vaccination status, says Le Parisien. Result: Seven out of ten Americans with Pfizer reported mild reactions. As for the second dose. In more than 9 out of 10 cases, these pains disappeared within a few days.

Cases of myocarditis are not specified, if they exist in mRNA vaccines. The decision to discard Moderna serum for under 30s for this reason, in France, remains a matter of (great) caution. Regardless of the vaccine used, Pfizer or Moderna, “no deaths have been reported among people hospitalized for myocarditis or pericarditis after vaccination,” the ANSM recalled last week.

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Also, it could be a simple overdose. This dosage allows them to have a slightly more effective result, if we look at the results “under the microscope” and in a very meticulous way (it is on the order of 2 or 3 more points of protection), compared to the Pfizer Vaccine. But the corollary of that is that if you dose a little more, you also run the risk of seeing a little more side effects, and that is probably what we see here, “Professor Mathieu Molimard, director of the department of medical pharmacology of the University Hospital of Bordeaux.

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France, Paris, January 8, 2020, portrait of Albert Moukheiber.By Albert Moukheiber


By David Baverez

L’Express Expert Group

The last French nuclear reactor started up in 2004.Cécile Maisonneuve is Senior Fellow at Institut Montaigne and advisor to the IFRI energy-climate center


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