The World Health Organization has rejected the necessity of COVID-19 booster shots, saying that data is not conclusive. This came after the Biden administration announced plans to roll out boosters for individuals who have been fully vaccinated.

The WHO’s statement comes amid a wave of breakthrough cases in highly vaccinated countries, where novel vaccines have failed to prevent death or serious illnesses against new COVID-19 variants, and have been linked to unprecedentedly high adverse reactions.

WHO chief scientist Soumya Swaminathan said at a media briefing: “We recently had an expert group meeting with scientists from around the world this included researchers, it included regulatory experts from different regulatory agencies, there was consensus that … the data around the need for boosters is not conclusive.”

She also said that they don’t have enough data to know about the safety of the boosters and that it needs to be studied before the government launches a full-scale booster program for the population.

Further, she stated that putting together all of the evidence from all other countries, the WHO is not at a point to recommend boosters, although it could reverse its stance in the face of new variants.

Director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus also doubled down on the discouragement of booster programs, saying that there is a debate about whether or not they are effective at all. He also indicated that low vaccination rates in some countries could lead to “more potent variants,” adding that countries should share what can be used for boosters.

However, leading experts believe that it is not the unvaccinated population that is driving the creation of new variants. Instead, they pointed at vaccines as a cause of virus mutation. 

A board-certified internist and cardiologist, Dr. Peter McCullough noted that there are sources of information that suggested vaccinations will allow variants to emerge due to resistance. He compared this to an antibiotic, noting that once people get to a certain percentage of coverage, they allow a resistant bacteria to move forward.

More questions surround the possibility of needing booster shots

In June, leading infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci told Congress that he believed recipients of the vaccine will require booster shots, although he added that he wasn’t sure when they will be needed.

However, not all experts are ready to commit to another dose. Monica Gandhi, a professor at the University of California San Francisco detailed several reasons for why people don’t have to worry about getting a booster. She wrote: “The best way to keep people safe now is to put the discussion of boosters aside and work hard on global vaccine distribution.”

Anna Durbin of Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health said that public health officials should keep an eye on the number and severity of breakthrough cases to know whether or not another dose is necessary. She said that if immunity induced by the vaccines is waning to the point that it is no longer giving protection against significant diseases, then it will be the time for boosters.

Data has shown that vaccines have been effective at preventing severe infections and hospitalizations caused by the existing coronavirus variants, so if the vaccines are still highly effective against the original strain and offer enough protection from others, the extra dose may not be necessary yet.

“Certainly, a third dose is not going to hurt you. It’s going to help your immune response. The big question is, is it really needed,” Durbin said.

The CDC and FDA said earlier this year that boosters will not be recommended As COVID-19 vaccines appear to be failing against the virus, it is not clear what additional benefits a booster shot will provide.

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