A World Health Organization official recommended at-risk people get third doses of the COVID-19 vaccine — insisting that the extra shot was “not a luxury” despite his agency previously calling for a moratorium on boosters to prioritize getting shots to poor countries.
“A third dose of vaccine is not a luxury booster taken away from someone who is still waiting for a first jab. It’s basically a way to keep the most vulnerable safe,” said Dr. Hans Kluge, the WHO’s regional director for Europe, on Monday, the Guardian reported.
His remarks were at odds with the organization’s previous plea for “a moratorium on boosters” so that Third World countries could get their first and second doses to reduce the possibility of new and more contagious mutations.
“I understand the concern of all governments to protect their people from the Delta variant. But we cannot accept countries that have already used most of the global supply of vaccines using even more of it,” Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said earlier this month at a press briefing, referring to boosters.
WHO officials said at the time that there wasn’t enough evidence in favor of boosters to support the third shots.
“The evidence is evolving. It’s moving. We don’t have a full set of evidence around whether this is needed or not,” said Dr. Katherine O’Brien, WHO’s vaccines chief.
Pfizer’s booster shot was approved for immunocompromised people in the US after data showed it improves the body’s ability to fight the virus.
Johnson & Johnson’s one-dose vaccine also improves protection against the virus with an extra shot, the company said.