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News Article

WHO Calls for COVID-19 Vaccine Booster Moratorium

By Miriam Bello | Thu, 08/05/2021 - 13:40

Tedros Adhamon, Director General of WHO, called “for a moratorium on COVID-19 vaccine boosters until at least the end of September” after high-income countries, announced plans to provide booster shots to protect their population from emerging variants.

The United Arab Emirates, Israel, the UK, Germany, Cambodia, Thailand, France, Russia, Switzerland, Singapore and Indonesia are some of the countries that already announced their plans to distribute COVID-19 booster shots about six months after the first scheme is completed.

Israel, one of the first countries to implement a vaccination campaign, has one of the most successful coverage rates (60 percent) and plans to begin administrating the Pfizer-BioNTech booster shots to older adults just next week. An internal analysis from WHO estimates that if the 11 rich countries that are either rolling out boosters or considering them this year were to give the shots to everyone over 50 years old, they would use up roughly 440 million doses of the global supply.

But, are these shots necessary? Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla told CNBC that a third dose might be necessary somewhere between six and 12 months after the first scheme, followed by annual boosters, but all of that needs to be confirmed. “And again, the variants will play a key role,” Bourla said.

According to an article by Nature, scientists do not yet know how much more a booster would protect the average person, although the data is being studied. An article by WSJ states that many researchers suspect the immunity provided by COVID-19 vaccines will wane over time. “Historically, at least with the coronaviruses, the mild common cold coronaviruses, the durability of the protection from infection is not very long,” said Anthony Fauci, Director of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease.

However, the effects of not receiving any vaccine are clearer. In Africa, where only 2 percent of people have been vaccinated, COVID-19 rates are escalating, with fatality rates higher than the global average.

Even in Mexico, where the COVID-19 vaccination campaign is around 20 percent, cases are heavily escalating among the unvaccinated, which are also the youngest. Moreover, according to Deputy Minister Hugo Lopez-Gatell, 97 percent of people hospitalized today were not vaccinated. The remaining 3 percent are people who have a disease that causes significant immunosuppression, which could be contributing to vaccines being not fully effective for those individuals.

Miriam Bello Miriam Bello Journalist and Industry Analyst