WHO Says It ‘Strongly Supports’ COVID Boosters in Reversal of Previous Stance

By Aldgra Fredly
Aldgra Fredly
Aldgra Fredly
Aldgra Fredly is a freelance writer based in Malaysia, covering Asia Pacific news for The Epoch Times.
March 9, 2022Updated: March 9, 2022

The World Health Organization (WHO) said Tuesday that it “strongly supports” the administration of COVID-19 booster doses, reversing its previous stance that boosters were not necessary for healthy people who are fully vaccinated.

WHO said in its updated vaccine advisory that “current COVID-19 vaccines for primary series and booster doses” provide high levels of protection against severe disease and death, even in the context of the spread of Omicron.

The health organization appeared to reverse its previous statement, in which it opposed the widespread rollout of booster shots and stated that it should be based on evidence of individual and obligations to secure global equity in vaccine access.

Tedros Adhanom Ghebereyesus, WHO’s director-general, last year called for a moratorium on booster shots for healthy adults through the end of 2021 to counter the “profound inequity” in global vaccine access.

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

In December, Tedros again took aim at wealthier countries’ COVID-19 booster programs and accused them of prolonging the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Blanket booster programs are likely to prolong the pandemic, rather than ending it, by diverting supply to countries that already have high levels of vaccination coverage, giving the virus more opportunity to spread and mutate,” he said in a news briefing.

Dr. Mike Ryan, WHO’s emergency director, also previously said that there is “no evidence” to suggest that boosting the entire population can give “any greater protection” for healthy people.

In contrast, the updated vaccine advisory now recommends “broad access” to booster doses, especially for groups at risk of developing severe disease of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, commonly known as the novel coronavirus.

“The near-and medium-term supply of the available vaccines has increased substantially, however, vaccine equity remains an important challenge and all efforts to address such inequities are strongly encouraged,” WHO stated.

WHO said that it will continue to review and assess the public health implications of Omicron on the performance of the vaccines, including a subvariant of Omicron known as BA.2, which is believed to be more contagious.

“Given widespread transmission of Omicron globally, the possibility of its continued evolution is high, and a new variant may emerge before an updated vaccine can be produced and delivered at scale,” it added.

Maria Van Kerkhove, the WHO’s COVID-19 technical lead, told reporters on Feb. 8 that four different versions of the Omicron variant—first described and named in November 2021—are being tracked around the world.

“BA.2 is more transmissible than BA.1 so we expect to see BA.2 increasing in detection around the world,” Van Kerkhove told reporters during a WHO briefing, adding that there is no indication about whether the subvariant might cause a more severe illness than the original.

Jack Phillips contributed to this report.