WHO Leader Pleads Against Booster Shots—Questioning Efficacy And Highlighting Risk Of ‘More Potent’ Variants

As more countries become wealthy and offer Covid-19 booster shots, the World Health Organization (WHO), is increasing its appeal against Covid-19 booster shot. The groups headed by the WHO on Monday called for a two month pause to prioritize countries where vaccines are seriously lagging.

Photo taken March 11, 2020. World Health Organization Director-General Tedros... [+] Adhanom Ghebreyesus attends a briefing on COVID-19 at WHO Headquarters in Geneva. (Photo taken by Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP). (Photo by FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP through Getty Images) AFP via Getty Images

The Key Facts

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director General, pleaded for countries to share boosters that could be used to boost vaccination coverage in other countries. Ghebreyesus said that the hyper-infectious delta variant could become more dangerous and more powerful if it is allowed to spread in countries with low vaccination coverage. The WHO director also questioned whether booster shots are even effective. This comment comes just days after Soumya Swaminathan, the organization's chief scientist, said that data does not support boosters being needed.

Surprising Fact

Monday's announcement by Ghebreyesus stated that 75% of the nearly 4.8 billion doses of vaccines have been delivered to 10 countries. About 1% of the 4.8 billion vaccine doses have reached 10 countries, and less than 2% have been administered to Africa.

Important Background

The WHO appeal is being made as wealthy countries, including the United States of America, seek to offer vaccine top ups despite continuing debate about whether they are needed. The US officials announced their plans to begin distributing a third dose of the Moderna and Pfizer BioNTech vaccines in September, subject to FDA and CDC approval. They cited data that showed a decrease in protection against mild and moderate illnesses six months after vaccination. U.S. officials expressed concern that this decline in protection could continue over the coming months, leading to decreased protection against serious disease, hospitalization, and death. Vivek Murthy, the General Surgeon. Other experts argue that countries seeking boosters make decisions prematurely on the basis of incomplete data.


Ghebreyesus' suggestion that stockspiling could lead to more deadly variants of the virus, and an increase in Covid-19 infections, was supported by Science journal Science last week.

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U.S. U.S. To Offer Booster Shots to Countries That Have Only Just Begun Covid Vaccinations

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