WHO expert advisers have backed a booster Covid jab for people with weak immune systems.
The World Health Organization’s vaccine advisers have recommended that people with weakened immune systems should be offered an additional dose of all WHO-approved COVID-19 vaccines. The UN health agency’s experts also said on Monday, October 11, that the over-60s fully immunised with China’s Sinovac and Sinopharm vaccines should be offered an additional third COVID-19 vaccine dose.
The Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunisation (SAGE) stressed it was not recommending an additional booster dose for the population at large, which is already being rolled out in some countries. Several Covid-19 vaccines have been given WHO approval for emergency use during the pandemic, they include: Pfizer-BioNTech, Janssen, Moderna, Sinopharm, Sinovac and AstraZeneca. They are all two-dose vaccines, with the exception of the Janssen jab.
The WHO is also on the verge of deciding whether to give emergency use listing (EUL) to India’s Bharat Biotech jab.
SAGE held a four-day meeting last week to review the latest information and data on a range of vaccines for Covid-19 and other diseases. “SAGE recommended that moderately and severely immunocompromised persons should be offered an additional dose of all WHO EUL Covid-19 vaccines as part of an extended primary series.
“These individuals are less likely to respond adequately to vaccination following a standard primary vaccine series and are at high risk of severe Covid-19 disease,” the group said.
Kate O’Brien, the WHO’s vaccines chief, said the extra dose now should be considered as part of the normal coronavirus immunisation course for people with weaker immune systems, to be administered after a wait of one to three months.
It should bring their level of protection up to that demonstrated to prevent against severe disease, hospitalisation and death in clinical trials — from which people with immunocompromised conditions were excluded.
Dr Anthony Fauci, the US’s top infectious disease scientist, said on July 11 it was too soon for the US government to recommend another shot but he would not rule out the possibility booster shots would be necessary in the future.
“Right now, given the data and the information we have, we do not need to give people a third shot. That doesn’t mean we stop there … There are studies being done now, ongoing as we speak, about looking at the feasibility about, if and when we should be boosting people,” he said.
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