WHO Recommends Boosters—for Vulnerable Populations

The WHO recommended COVID-19 boosters for immunocompromised people and inactivated vaccine recipients, sticking largely to its earlier advice despite Omicron fears driving booster expansions in many countries, Reuters reports.
 
“For the time being we continue to support the need for equity in distribution (of vaccines) and the use of a third dose only in those” with health problems or people who have received an inactivated vaccine, said Alejandro Craviotom, chair of the Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on immunization, which convened Tuesday.

  • Inactivated vaccines include those made by Sinovac Biotech, Sinopharm, and Bharat Biotech.
  • The recommendations keep the focus on primary doses for low-income countries with worryingly low vaccination rates.

 
As Africa CDC Director John Nkengasong said, “You can’t even talk of a booster when you have people who haven’t received their first dose,” according to the AP.  

African governments might have to resort to COVID-19 vaccine mandates if people “don’t hurry to get the increasingly available doses,” Nkengasong warned, citing vaccines donated near their expiration dates and rising cases amid Omicron.

  • New cases this past week surged by 93%, per the WHO—although low COVID-19 hospitalizations in South Africa are stirring hope that Omicron causes less severe illness.
  • Just 6 African countries have met the global target of 40% of their populations vaccinated against COVID-19 by the end of 2021.
  • Countries including Zimbabwe and Ghana already require vaccines for certain groups; Kenya plans to roll out shot requirements for access to government services soon.
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