World Health Org. says booster shot unnecessary as US to begin distribution

Despite continued warnings made by health experts around the world, U.S. health officials have argued that the required logistics of vaccinating enough of the population are too complicated to wait for scientific certainty.

By Tobias Siegal, World Israel News

As the COVID Delta variant continues to spread and lead to renewed spikes of cases worldwide, health officials seem divided about the necessity of booster shots and the populations that should be getting them.

On Wednesday, health officials in the U.S. announced that adult recipients of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines will be eligible for a third shot beginning on September.

“It is now our clinical judgment that the time to lay out a plan for COVID boosters is now,” surgeon general Dr. Vivek Murthy said during a White House briefing.

According to the new policy being promoted by the Biden administration, the first booster shot will go to health care and emergency workers first, followed by the older population and finally the general public – with all adults being able to receive a booster shot by the end of September, under the plan.

But it seems like U.S. health officials and experts from the World Health Organization (WHO) are in disagreement. Shortly before the White House made its announcement, the WHO stated that there is no sufficient data to indicate the necessity of a booster shot and urged pharmaceutical companies to reconsider the distribution of their available vaccines.

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The organization criticized vaccine-producing companies for providing rich countries like the U.S. with booster shots rather than providing shots to poorer countries where most people have yet to receive a first shot.

“It’s unconscionable that some #COVID19 vaccine-producing companies are reporting record profits, and some countries are offering boosters, while so many people remain unprotected,” WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus tweeted.

He added that “Vaccine injustice is a shame on all humanity and if we don’t tackle it together, we will prolong the acute stage of this pandemic for years when it could be over in a matter of months … No one is safe until everyone is safe.”

But the consideration of whether a booster shot is necessary or not  is not purely ethical, as WHO officials have noted. Speaking at a press conference on Wednesday, WHO chief scientist Soumya Swaminathan said that “we believe clearly that the data today does not indicate that boosters are needed.”

But despite the continued warnings made by health experts around the world, U.S. health officials have argued that the required logistics of vaccinating enough of the population are too complicated to wait for scientific certainty that the extra doses are really needed, the New York Times reported.

Last week, Israel, which was the first country to administer booster shots of the vaccine, announced that it was lowering the minimum age for booster shot eligibility from 60 to 50.

Israeli lawmakers urged the Health Ministry to lower the age of eligibility to 40, but the ministry refused, noting that more tests are necessary.

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