WHO complains of vaccine donations to poor countries with near-expired formulations

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The World Health Organization (WHO) Vaccine Advisory Committee recommends that immunocompromised or inactivated vaccines receive a booster dose of COVID-19 vaccine, the head of the committee said today.

Many countries have started boosting doses, focusing on the elderly and people with underlying diseases, but concerns about the new Omicron variant have prompted some to expand the use of booster doses to a wider section of the population.

Concerned about low vaccination rates

With vaccination rates alarmingly low in much of the developing world, the WHO has said in recent months that giving the first doses – rather than souvenirs – should be a priority.

The recommendation came after a meeting of the Strategic Expert Advisory Group (SAGE) on immunization on Tuesday to assess the need for booster doses of the new coronavirus vaccine. This valuation is largely in line with the guidelines given in October.

In a press conference today, SAGE President Alejandro Craivoto noted that the vaccines provide a strong level of protection against serious illness for at least six months, although evidence shows that immunity is reduced against serious illness in the elderly and those with subjects. diseases.

“At the moment we continue to support the need for equality in the distribution (of vaccines) and the use of a third dose only in those with health problems or people who have received an inactivated vaccine,” he said.

The COVID-19 vaccines protect “very well” for six months after the last dose with some “minor, moderate reduction” in protection, added Kate O’Brien, WHO Director-General immunization.

For the Johnson & Johnson vaccine

A single dose of Johnson & Johnson vaccine is still effective, but data from the company’s clinical trials using two doses clearly show the benefit of further vaccination, Craivoto added.

Inactivated vaccines that take SARS-CoV-2 and inactivate or kill it using chemicals, heat or radiation, are made by the Chinese companies Sinovac Biotech and Sinopharm, as well as Bharat Biotech of India.

For donations from rich countries

These had been approved for urgent use by the WHO. Donating short-lived vaccine doses from rich countries to the COVAX global vaccine distribution program is a “major problem,” Kate O’Brien said.

The WHO director of vaccines made the remarks at a time when concerns are growing that many African countries are facing the fact that they do not have time to get vaccines before they expire.

Reuters reported on Tuesday that up to 1 million vaccines were estimated to have expired in Nigeria last month without being used, in one of the largest single individual losses in a country, showing the difficulty African nations face in vaccines reach the hands of their citizens.

Kate O’Brien also noted that rich countries may resume stockpiling vaccines, threatening global supplies, as they seek to boost their reserves to curb the new variant of the coronavirus Omicron.

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