WHO recommends COVID-19 boosters in reversal

Associated Press / Anja Niedringhaus

The World Health Organization (WHO) updated its vaccine guidance on Tuesday to recommend the administration of COVID-19 booster shots, marking a reversal from what the United Nations organization has previously said about additional vaccine doses.

In a statement, the WHO said the Technical Advisory Group on COVID-19 Vaccine Composition “strongly supports urgent and broad access to current COVID-19 vaccines for primary series and booster doses, particularly for groups at risk of developing severe disease.”

The WHO has previously spoken out against administering COVID-19 booster shots, arguing that wealthier countries should abstain from administering additional doses while low- and middle-income countries have struggled to provide initial rounds of vaccinations for their populations.

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus called for a moratorium on booster shots for healthy adults through the end of 2021.

“We do not want to see widespread use of boosters for healthy people who are fully vaccinated,” Tedros said in September.

The WHO has also previously recommended prioritizing booster shots for high-risk individuals in countries that have moderate-to-high coverage. However, the newest guidance marks a shift in urgency for the organization, now recommending “broad” access to boosters.

The WHO on Tuesday cited how the “near- and medium-term supply of the available vaccines has increased substantially,” but reiterated that vaccine inequity remains an “important challenge” that should be addressed.

The COVID-19 vaccines currently being administered around the world are based around a form of the virus that circulated early on in the pandemic, and the WHO noted that these vaccines may need to be updated. Taking into account the wide spread of the omicron variant, the WHO said a new mutation of the virus was likely to occur.

This story was updated at 2:52 p.m.

Tags Booster dose COVID-19 COVID-19 vaccine SARS-CoV-2 Omicron variant Vaccine vaccine equity WHO World Health Organization World Health Organization
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