WHO repeats warning of Covid booster vaccinations for wholesome folks

The Director General of the World Health Organization (WHO), Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, will attend a press conference in Geneva, Switzerland on July 3, 2020.

Fabrice Coffrini | Reuters

World Health Organization officials reiterated their protests against Covid-19 booster vaccinations for the general public on Tuesday, despite the US poised to approve their distribution across much of America this week.

WHO strongly opposes the widespread introduction of booster vaccinations and calls for wealthier nations to give extra doses to countries with minimal vaccination rates. The U.S. has already given over 2 million third doses nationwide, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and an advisory panel to the Food and Drug Administration unanimously recommended boosters for anyone 65 and over on Friday.

“The WHO argues that booster doses are not currently the best choice in the general population who have had widespread access to vaccines and who have already been vaccinated,” said Dr. Mike Ryan, WHO Emergency Health Program Director, during a live question and answer broadcast on the organization’s social media channels on Tuesday.

Ryan reiterated WHO support for third doses given to elderly, medically vulnerable people and anyone in need of immune boosting after a full Covid vaccine regimen. He reiterated the organization’s calls for a moratorium on booster vaccinations by the end of the year to give nations enough time to vaccinate at least 40% of their population against Covid.

WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Sept. 14 that most countries with vaccination coverage below 2% are in Africa, where less than 3.5% of the continent’s eligible population are fully vaccinated against Covid. Africa is likely to miss the WHO’s target of reaching a 10% vaccination rate by the end of the year, Tedros added.

But in the US, where nearly 55% of the population is fully vaccinated, the CDC says the FDA is expected to issue formal guidance on Pfizer’s boosters before the CDC holds its two-day vaccination meeting on Wednesday and Thursday.

An FDA advisory committee on Friday turned down a proposal to recommend boosters to all Americans over 16, citing concerns about insufficient data and the potential for myocarditis. Instead, the group narrowed that plan and advocated third doses for those over 65 and other medically vulnerable people.

At a meeting of the 76th General Assembly of the United Nations on Tuesday, world leaders continued to discuss global vaccination efforts. President Joe Biden will hold a Covid summit on Wednesday to encourage international dignitaries to improve vaccine distribution around the world and inform the General Assembly that the US has donated more than 160 million doses of Covid vaccine to the cause.

“It’s a real moment of truth,” said Ryan. “We as a world get another chance, opportunities that we didn’t take before, to focus on equality in the vaccine.”

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