WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus on Wednesday urged wealthier nations including the United States and companies controlling the vaccine supply to prioritize addressing providing more doses of COVID-19 vaccines to poorer nations. Tedros said such a move is necessary because even if richer countries become fully vaccinated, the virus will spread frequently through poorer nations and could possibly mutate to breakthrough vaccine protection.
But Psaki said that Tedros, with his statement, is offering a “false choice” between developing booster shots and providing vaccines to poorer nations.
“We definitely feel that it’s a false choice and we can do both,” she said, adding that the United States has donated more than any other country. “Also in this country [we] have enough supply to ensure that every American has access to a vaccine,” Psaki added.
The United States, she added, “will have enough supply to ensure if the FDA decides that boosters are recommended for a portion of the population to provide those as well,” and officials “believe we can do both and we don’t need to make that choice.”
It comes as Moderna, one of the makers of a two-shot mRNA vaccine, proclaimed that booster shots will likely be necessary. In the firm’s earnings report, the company said it believes the so-called “Delta” variant will lead to an increase in breakthrough cases—or COVID-19 cases involving individuals who have been vaccinated.
There was, according to the pharmaceutical giant, “robust antibody responses have been observed from existing Moderna booster candidates against COVID-19 in Phase 2 studies.” In an accompanying earnings presentation, the company said that COVID-19 vaccine antibody levels have declined over time, making it necessary for a booster shot in the winter.
“We believe that increased force of infection resulting from Delta, non-pharmaceutical intervention (NPI) fatigue, and seasonal effects (moving indoors) will lead to an increase of breakthrough infections in vaccinated individuals,” the firm said in an earnings call on Thursday.
Moderna CEO Stephane Bancel told Fox Business on Thursday morning that the firm’s booster shot could be available in the near future but stressed the firm is “waiting for a bit more data” on when to roll it out.
“We have tried in humans already a booster of the South Africa strain, the Beta virus and we’ve announced this morning that we’re also working on the delta booster and so that data is going to come together in the coming months,” he remarked.