WHO lists dangers of ‘blanket’ booster programs — Analysis

The World Health Organization has warned countries against “blanket” booster programs, saying that they exacerbate vaccine inequities and might even make the pandemic longer.

According to the WHO’s advisory group on immunization (SAGE) report, published on Wednesday, the focus “It is important to continue decreasing the death rate and treating severe diseases” as well as on protecting the healthcare systems. SAGE expressed concern that “Broad-based administrations of booster doses could increase vaccine access” by diverting supply from under-vaccinated countries to ones with an already high percentage of vaccinated people.

WHO’s general director Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, speaking at a press conference later on Wednesday, further clarified that with 20% of all vaccine doses given now as boosters and additional doses, “The pandemic is more likely to be prolonged than ended by blanket programs..” Diversion of vaccine supply to the countries with high levels of immunity gives the virus “There is more chance to spread and modify,” he added.

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Ghebreyesus pointed out that the majority of deaths and hospitalizations occur in unvaccinated populations. Therefore, the goal of countries is to vaccinate 40% of their citizens by end of year and 70% of their population by middle of next year.

According to SAGE’s report, at least 126 countries have already issued guidance on booster or additional vaccination and more than 120 have started boosting their populations.

Most of these countries can be classified as either high-income or higher middle-income. There is no country of low income that has introduced booster vaccinations.” the report said.

Ghebreyesus’ comments came as the UK has been regularly reporting new records in what Ghebreyesus has called a “blanket booster program.” On Tuesday, 968,665 booster and third doses were administered in the country, with around 53.6% of all adults now boosted.

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