Omicron variant: WHO recommends booster dose for high-risk groups

WHO has said that booster doses should only be introduced on the basis of firm evidence and be targeted at the most vulnerable and high-risk population groups along with frontline health workers.

In a word of caution, the apex world health body WHO said that booster doses be only administered to decrease mortality and incidence of severe disease. It warned that any broad-based administration of the booster dose risks exacerbating vaccine access.

Amidst the rising cases of the Omicron variant of Coronavirus across several countries, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has said that booster doses should only be introduced on the basis of firm evidence and be targeted at the most vulnerable and high-risk population group along with the frontline health workers. Earlier the WHO’s Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunisation (SAGE) noted that only minimal and modest reduction has been reported in vaccine protection against the disease among people who have been fully vaccinated for over six months, the Indian Express reported. SAGE had also added that introduction of the booster dose depends on the deliberation of firm evidence and only those in greatest need of the booster dose be provided one.

The latest statement issued by the WHO has special significance for India as the country is known to closely follow the observations and advisories issued by the WHO. What makes the recent statement issued by the WHO even more significant for India is the fact that the government had begun vaccinating frontline health workers on January 16 which is almost a year back.

As per the SAGE’s systematic review based on the efficacy of four WHO EUL Coronavirus vaccines including Covishield, the effectiveness of vaccines against severe disease decreased by about 8% after the passage of 6 months in all age groups. The corresponding decline of vaccine effectiveness against severe disease in adults above 50 years of age was found to be 10 percent.

In a word of caution, the apex world health body WHO said that booster doses be only administered to decrease mortality and incidence of severe disease. It warned that any broad-based administration of the booster dose risks exacerbating vaccine access. It further highlighted that the wide use of booster dose could increase the demand of booster dose in developed countries depriving poor countries and priority countries from getting access to Coronavirus vaccines.

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