About half a dozen other countries are considering the idea. If those countries also start offering booster shots, “that will require an additional 800 million doses of the vaccine,” WHO chief scientist Soumya Swaminathan said at a press briefing on Monday.
These doses should be intended for countries that have had little access to vaccines, said WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. He condemned rich countries and middle-income countries for considering a third dose when frontline workers and the elderly in poor countries have yet to receive their first dose. Some countries have yet to launch mass vaccination campaigns. “Currently, the data shows us that vaccination provides long-lasting immunity against serious and fatal covid-19,” he said. “The priority must now be to vaccinate those who have received no doses and no protection.”
Craig Spencer, director of Global Health in Emergency Medicine at New York-Presbyterian / Columbia University Medical Center, put it more bluntly. “No matter what the pharmaceutical companies tell you, you don’t need a Covid-19 booster more urgently than all healthcare workers around the world who haven’t yet had access to a vaccine.” , he tweeted.
That’s not to say we won’t need boosters eventually. “You may well need boosters after a year or two,” said WHO’s Swaminathan. Wherry notes that it’s good to be prepared. But he saw no data to convince him that boosters are now justified. “Emerging data indicates that the immunity is strong,” he says.