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WHO advisory panel to discuss COVID-19 booster shots


WHO advisory panel to discuss COVID-19 booster shots

Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP

The WHO advisory panel—the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE)— will meet today to discuss the need for COVID-19 booster shots.

Booster shots are additional doses of the vaccine administered to fully vaccinated populations once the protection of the initial shots has begun to decrease, normally around six months after initial immunization. The booster shot is designed to restore the vaccine’s effectiveness in the body to provide longer immunity.

Today’s meeting comes as WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus called for a moratorium on booster shots until 2022 to address widening inequity in global vaccine access. So far, only 261m, or 14% of the 1.8bn vaccination doses pledged by high-income countries have reached low-income countries.

Expect SAGE to recommend booster shots for immunocompromised individuals where a third dose is necessary due to their increased health risks. Nevertheless, while developed states have begun booster campaigns to halt the spread of the highly contagious Delta variant, the panel will likely hazard away from widespread use of boosters in favor of  increasing global vaccination coverage. While 51.1% of the world population has received at least one dose of the vaccine, only 4.2% are people in low-income countries.

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