WHO doesn’t advocate Covid booster doses proper now, citing lack of knowledge

Student Jack Herrington will receive a dose of a vaccine against coronavirus disease (COVID-19) on July 22, 2021 on the University of Memphis campus in Memphis, Tennessee.

Karen Pulfer Focht | Reuters

The World Health Organization is not recommending a booster of Covid-19 “at this point,” the group’s lead vaccine doctor said on Wednesday, citing a lack of data on its effectiveness.

Dr. Kate O’Brien, WHO director of immunization, vaccines and biologics, said the organization is still researching whether a booster vaccination is needed to increase protection against highly contagious mutations in the coronavirus.

Executives at Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson, who make the three U.S.-approved Covid vaccines, all said Americans would eventually need a booster shot after their first series of vaccinations. Pfizer plans to file its application for a booster dose with US regulators in August, the company said on Wednesday.

“We are very aware that there is not enough information at this time to make a recommendation,” O’Brien said in a Q&A interview posted on the organization’s social media accounts. “This is also a very hot topic and there is a lot of research going on to come up with an evidence-based recommendation,” she said.

If the WHO advocates booster vaccination, O’Brien said it would likely only apply to select groups of recipients, such as the elderly or people with other conditions that make them prone to serious illness. She added that WHO is also looking into approving booster syringes “on a product-by-product basis” as not all products are exactly the same.

O’Brien said WHO is studying the shelf life of vaccines, how long the protection lasts, and their effectiveness against different variants, before recommending a booster.

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