A group of medical experts warned that data does not show a need for Covid vaccine boosters for most people despite the Biden administration’s plan to roll out booster shots this month, CNN reports.
"Current evidence does not, therefore, appear to show a need for boosting in the general population, in which efficacy against severe disease remains high," a group of medical experts including two senior FDA scientists and World Health Organization officials said in an op-ed published in the medical journal The Lancet.
The scientists said that randomized trials and observational studies have consistently shown that "vaccine efficacy is substantially greater against severe disease than against any infection; in addition, vaccination appears to be substantially protective against severe disease from all the main viral variants. Although the efficacy of most vaccines against symptomatic disease is somewhat less for the delta variant than for the alpha variant, there is still high vaccine efficacy against both symptomatic and severe disease due to the delta variant."
The group noted that no study to date has “provided credible evidence of substantially declining protection against severe disease, even when there appear to be declines over time in vaccine efficacy against symptomatic disease.”
Group urges vaccine equity:
The scientists said that boosters should be studied before there is a widespread need for them but the current supply could “save more lives” if used for people who haven’t been vaccinated or don’t have access to vaccines.
"The limited supply of these vaccines will save the most lives if made available to people who are at appreciable risk of serious disease and have not yet received any vaccine. Even if some gain can ultimately be obtained from boosting, it will not outweigh the benefits of providing initial protection to the unvaccinated," the scientists wrote. "If vaccines are deployed where they would do the most good, they could hasten the end of the pandemic by inhibiting further evolution of variants."
The op-ed comes as the Biden administration continues to push to start providing booster shots for anyone six months after their second vaccination.
The WHO has repeatedly called on wealthy countries to delay booster plans to provide the developing world with much-needed doses.
"Low and lower-middle income countries are not the second or third priority. Their health workers, older people, and other at risk groups have the same right to be protected,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said last week. "I will not stay silent when the companies and countries that control the global supply of vaccines think the world's poor should be satisfied with leftovers."
The White House insists that the administration can do boosters and help other countries. But top officials have clashed over the booster push, according to Politico, and have warned senior White House officials that there is not enough data to support their booster plan.