As governments around the world rush to vaccinate their citizens against the surging coronavirus, scientists are locked in a heated debate over a surprising question: Is it wisest to hold back the second doses everyone will need, or to give as many people as possible an inoculation now — and push back the second doses until later?
Since even the first shot appears to provide some protection against COVID-19, some experts believe that the shortest route to containing the virus is to disseminate the initial injections as widely as possible now.
Officials in Britain have already elected to delay second doses of vaccines made by the pharmaceutical companies AstraZeneca and Pfizer as a way of more widely distributing the partial protection afforded by a single shot.
Health officials in the United States have been adamantly opposed to the idea. “I would not be in favor of that,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, told CNN on Friday. “We’re going to keep doing what we’re doing.”