WHO experts have discounted the idea of booster vaccination for Covid-19 and have made it clear that the data available till date do not suggest any need for booster vaccines and said that boosters at this point would only complicate the situation.
Desk: The World Health Organisation has said that that sufficient information is not available on the need to have booster vaccinations and the data does not suggest that at this point in time we need booster vaccinations.
In reply to a query in a press conference on August 18, Dr. Jachim Hombach from SAGE Secretariat of WHO said: “We virtually have not seen a decline in relation to really the most important objective that we have, namely the prevention of severe disease. So that is the stage at which we are. The analysis is extremely complicated because obviously we have not many studies, we have different vaccine, we have the emergence of variants and we have different population groups.”
A journalist wanted to know about vaccine booster dose. He asked as to what data do WHO has today not only from vaccine makers, of the decreased protection after two doses especially when it concerns the delta variant?
Dr. Soumya Swaminathan said: “We need to know which groups at what period after the vaccination and which particular vaccines people have received in their primary course but Joachim can elaborate on the SAGE guidance in this regard.”
Dr. Joachim Hombach then interjected: “No vaccine is 100% effective and if you have high vaccine coverage you will of course always have cases, breakthrough infections or what we also call primary failures where the vaccine actually doesn’t work. That is normal, that occurs and the proportion in which this happens may differ from vaccine to vaccine.”
Regarding the issue of waning protection he added: “The first thing is that we actually have pretty little data on this and so we are certainly gathering more data. There are some pieces of information that have come out which I think have been very widely discussed already in the press which indeed suggest some decline in protective efficacy in relation however – and that’s the important point and Soumya said it before – in relation to mild disease and infection. But what is clear is that we do not have sufficient information and the data does not suggest that at that point in time we need booster vaccinations. That’s the current situation and that is the position that we have put out.”
Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove said: “If we think about this in terms of an analogy, we’re planning to hand out extra life-jackets to people who already have life-jackets while we’re leaving other people to drown without a single life jacket. That’s the reality. Science is not certain on this. There’s clearly more data to collect but the fundamental ethical reality is we’re handing out second life-jackets while leaving millions and millions of people without anything to protect them.”
Dr. Tarik Jasarevic said: “If we’re talking about everyone in high-income countries getting a booster this is an impossible situation and I’m afraid that this will only lead to more variants, to more escaped variants and perhaps we’re heading into even more dire situations. But I think, let’s focus on the science and make decisions that are based on science.”