COVID vaccine boosters not widely needed, top FDA and WHO scientists say

Washington: Additional COVID-19 vaccine booster shots are not needed for the general population, leading scientists including two departing senior US Food and Drug Administration officials and several from the World Health Organisation (WHO) have said in an article published in a medical journal.

The scientists said more evidence was needed to justify boosters. That view disagrees with US government plans to begin offering another round of shots to many fully vaccinated Americans as soon as next week, contingent on approval from health regulators.

The WHO has argued that the vaccines are still needed for first doses around the globe.Credit:Getty Images

As COVID-19 cases caused by the Delta variant of the virus rise, US President Joe Biden’s administration is concerned that infections among those already vaccinated are a sign that their protection is waning and has pushed boosters as a way to rebuild immunity.

The WHO has argued that the vaccines are still needed for first doses around the globe.

“Any decisions about the need for boosting or timing of boosting should be based on careful analyses of adequately controlled clinical or epidemiological data, or both, indicating a persistent and meaningful reduction in severe disease,” the scientists wrote in the Lancet medical journal on Monday, local time.

The risk-benefit evaluation should consider the number of severe COVID-19 cases that boosting would be expected to prevent, and whether it is safe and effective against the current variants, they said.

“Current evidence does not, therefore, appear to show a need for boosting in the general population, in which efficacy against severe disease remains high,” the scientists wrote.

Some countries have begun COVID-19 booster campaigns, including Israel, providing some of the data on which the Biden administration has made its case for additional shots.

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