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GAVI Cautions Against Booster Doses of COVID-19 Jabs amidst Delta Variant Scare

“ Research into boosters remains an essential part of the pandemic response because if protection from existing Covid-19 vaccines does eventually start to wane or new variants emerge that are more resistant to vaccines, then boosters could potentially offer enhanced protection” he said but added that both these scenarios will become self-fulfilling prophecies if countries with high COVID-19 vaccine coverage start making boosters available now, and to all citizens, because it will delay efforts to protect more people.
The continued aggressive spread of the delta variant of SARS COV2 has put the world into panic mode causing some countries to consider booster doses of the vaccine which is currently given either as a single or double dose depending on the brand one gets. 

But, Dr Seth Berkley, the Chief Executive Officer of the Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, warns that this move to have booster doses could end up giving the coronavirus a boost.

Berkley says that the reason why cases are on an increase eight months after the vaccines became available,  is that people are not making the most efficient global use of the doses available. So far, according to the World Health Organization, nearly four billion doses have been administered but just less than 2 per cent of the vaccines have gone to low developing countries like in Africa. 

“Research into boosters remains an essential part of the pandemic response because if protection from existing COVID-19 vaccines does eventually, start to wane or new variants emerge that are more resistant to vaccines, then boosters could potentially offer enhanced protection,” he said.

But,  he added that both these scenarios will become self-fulfilling prophecies if countries with high COVID-19  vaccine coverage start making boosters available now, and to all citizens because it will delay efforts to protect more people. He warns, the sooner that countries start using  boosters, the more likely they will need them and yet not all people at most risks in all corners of the world have accessed even the basic first dose.

“We are currently far from that goal. Some wealthy countries have vaccinated about two-thirds of their population against the coronavirus, while just 1.1 per cent of people in low-income countries have received their first jab.  That is not even enough to cover healthcare workers on the front lines of this fight, let alone other highly vulnerable populations in lower-income countries”.

He says that if some high-income countries start offering boosters, others will inevitably follow, and the effect on the global supply will be nothing short of disastrous. However, Berkley’s statement comes at a time of conflicting views by experts on whether or not boosters are necessary with some scientists predicting that they may not be needed at all during the pandemic.

For instance, Dr Kate O'Brien the Director for Immunization at the World Health Organization says there is no strong evidence yet to support an extra dose.

The organization said countries hoping to give their populations boosters should wait until at least the end of September since many countries have not yet inoculated many of their key populations such as all health workers and the elderly with the first dose. So far, one of the countries that have kicked off a campaign for the third dose is Israel.

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