While the White House’s top infectious disease specialist Dr. Anthony Fauci is pushing for COVID-19 booster shots in the U.S., the World Health Organization Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus complained about the booster program as countries struggle to get vaccines, Fox News reported.
During a press briefing on Dec. 22, Ghebreyesus criticized the roll-out of COVID-19 booster programs while other countries struggle to get vaccine supplies. He revealed that only half of the organization’s member countries have met the target of vaccinating 40% of their populations by the end of the year because of unequal distribution of global supply.
Regarding the Omicron variant, the WHO leader said that the new strain of coronavirus could develop due to unequal access to COVID-19 vaccines.
“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,” Ghebreyesus said.
But in the U.S, the health officials are urging people to get their booster doses as the number of cases surges throughout the country. CDC officials said last week that the Omicron variant accounts for 73% of the positive cases in the U.S.
Dr. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), urged Americans to get booster shots.
“Why we emphasize the importance of booster shots — the anti-Omicron activity is about 20- to 40-fold higher in sera from boosted vaccines versus the peak in individuals who had a two-dose vaccine,” Fauci said.
Citing clinical data, Fauci said that the vaccine efficacy of asymptomatic infection of a two-dose vaccine wanes over time. He said that “there’s a moderate-to-high effectiveness — about 75 percent — seen in the early period after a booster dose — and very likely higher when it comes to hospitalization and severe disease.”
Fauci said that prevention is a “multi-layered, comprehensive process, the hallmark of which is vaccination.”
According to the WHO, about 20% of COVID-19 vaccine doses worldwide are used daily for booster or additional dose vaccination.