WHO predicts annual COVID-19 booster shots likely for most vulnerable: report

WHO predicts annual COVID-19 booster shots likely for most vulnerable: report
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The World Health Organization (WHO) is predicting that annual COVID-19 booster shots will be needed for people most vulnerable to the coronavirus, according to documents obtained by Reuters.

Reuters reports the documents show that the WHO views annual vaccine shots for vulnerable people — such as the elderly and immunocompromised — as an "indicative" baseline scenario. The same documents suggest that booster shots may be needed for the general population every two years.

These booster shots would be needed as new variants of the virus continue to pop up. The documents, which are still a "work in progress," predict that at least 12 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines will need to be produced next year. Reuters notes that this amount is slightly higher than the 11 billion that has been forecasted for this year.

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In the U.S., officials have not yet said when or if COVID-19 booster shots will be needed, though it appears likely that they will be.

Last month Biden officials stated that if booster shots do end up being needed, they would be provided to the public for free.

"We are planning, and I underscore the word planning, to have booster doses available if necessary for the American people,” chief science officer for the White House's COVID-19 response team David Kessler said while addressing the Senate Health Committee.

"We do have the funds to purchase the next round, if they are necessary. So we will be able to purchase the next round to ensure if there are boosters, they are free, just as the last round," Kessler said.

Vaccine manufacturers have predicted that booster shots will be necessary as the full scope of immunity offered by the two-dose vaccines currently being offered is better understood.

Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said in April that a third booster shot around six to 12 months after a patient is fully vaccinated would be “likely," though he said it "remains to be seen" how often they would have to be provided.

“It is extremely important to suppress the pool of people that can be susceptible to the virus because they are vaccinated with high-efficacy vaccines," Bourla said.