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Virus Expert Predicts Your COVID Risk Now

"After a period of time," antibodies "start to decline and aren't as prominent in your blood."
FACT CHECKED BY Emilia Paluszek

Spring is officially here—but what does the change in seasons have in store for the COVID-19 pandemic? The "new normal" is in yet another state of transition: Cases are down in the U.S. and up in Europe. Oral antivirals and treatments for COVID are in greater supply, while a fourth vaccine dose for everyone may (repeat: may) be on the way. Mask mandates are on the retreat, while Americans are wondering how they can socialize safely this summer. Sunday on CBS's Face the Nation, former FDA head Scott Gottlieb (who currently serves on the board of Pfizer Pharmaceuticals) talked about who needs a fourth vaccine dose now, and what the summer holds for COVID in the U.S. Read on to find out more—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.


Annual Vaccine Likely

Female Doctor hands holding vaccine bottle and syringe.

"The data that's coming out shows that the protection from the vaccine, particularly three doses of the vaccine, but even two doses of the vaccine, is substantial and durable if you're talking about protection against severe disease and hospitalization," said Gottlieb.

"But in terms of protection from symptomatic disease and from infection, that does start to weigh more immediately, because that's dependent upon circulating antibodies, which after a period of time start to decline and aren't as prominent in your blood."


"This Is Really a Six-Month Vaccine"

Nurse holding syringe

"I think this is really a six-month vaccine in terms of providing really meaningful protection against symptomatic disease and infection, and this is likely to become an annualized vaccine for the majority of Americans," said Gottlieb. "I think for those who are vulnerable, you should think about getting a shot every six months while we're in a high prevalent environment." 

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So Does Everyone Need A Fourth Dose Now?

A woman displays her vaccination card and the

A fourth vaccine dose is currently approved and recommended for people who are immunocompromised. Pfizer and Moderna have applied for emergency use authorization for fourth vaccine doses: in Pfizer's case, for people 65 and up; in Moderna's, for all adults. 

"If we're in a low prevalent environment, as we're likely to be this summer, I think most Americans who had three doses of vaccine will have sufficient protection going through the summer," said Gottlieb. "We don't, after all, get a flu vaccine in the summertime, even though the flu vaccine only affords about six months of protection, because the flu season only lasts about six months through the fall in the winter. You don't worry about contracting a respiratory pathogen in the summertime."

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Risk "Low" This Summer

young woman outdoors in red shirt drinking smoothie while her friend behind her drinks iced tea
Shutterstock / NDAB Creativity

Gottlieb added: "I think the risk is going to be pretty low this summer. I think after we have this bump in infection, we get down to low levels heading into the fall." At that time, "I suspect a lot of Americans will want to get another vaccine. Some people are going to call it a fourth booster," said Gottlieb. He reiterated that the COVID vaccine is likely to become an annual one for most people.

RELATED: Dr. Fauci Just Said Here's What's Next


How to Stay Safe Out There

Brunette woman wearing a KN95 FPP2 mask.

Follow the fundamentals and help end this pandemic, no matter where you live—get vaccinated ASAP; if you live in an area with low vaccination rates, wear an N95 face mask, don't travel, social distance, avoid large crowds, don't go indoors with people you're not sheltering with (especially in bars), practice good hand hygiene, and to protect your life and the lives of others, don't visit any of these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.

Michael Martin
Michael Martin is a New York City-based writer and editor. Read more about Michael