As the omicron variant surges throughout the United States, health officials are urging Americans to get their Covid booster vaccines when eligible. However, during press briefings last week, America’s top infectious disease specialist, Dr. Anthony Fauci, and the World Health Organization (Who) Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus do not appear to see eye to eye when it comes to booster vaccination programs during the fight against Covid.
“No country can boost its way out of the pandemic,” Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said during the December 22nd briefing.
The WHO Director-General criticized blanket COVID-19 booster programs that are being rolled out while other countries struggle to get vaccine supplies. Ghebreyesus said in the briefing that only half of WHO’s Member States have met the target of vaccinating 40 percent of their populations by the end of the year because of unequal distribution of global supply.
Ghebreyesus said that new variants of the virus could develop due to unequal access to vaccines, which could potentially extend the pandemic.
“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 explained during the press briefing.
However, the WHO website does recognize the benefits to the COVID -19 booster.
The health agency stated on its website that published data from several countries regarding vaccine effectiveness from a booster dose demonstrated an improvement in protection against infection; milder disease; as well as severe disease and death, although the organization noted the studies have limited follow-up time.
Meanwhile, as cases surge in the U.S., CDC officials said last week in a White House Briefing that the omicron variant accounts for 73 percent of the positive cases in the U.S. In the midst of this surge, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), Dr. Anthony Fauci, urged the need for booster vaccinations in the states.
“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 during the briefing last week.
Fauci also said that clinical data shows that the vaccine efficacy of asymptomatic infection of a two-dose mRNA vaccine wanes over time. Fauci explained during the briefing that despite this waning effect of the two doses, “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 reiterated what CDC officials said during the briefing, that prevention is a “multi-layered, comprehensive process, the hallmark of which is vaccination.”
Dr. Aaron E. Glatt, an infectious disease specialist and a spokesperson for the Infectious Diseases Society of America, told Fox News “Clearly, boosters are extremely successful in preventing serious illness and mortality in patients 6 months post receiving their second mRNA vaccine dose. This will save lives and prevent hospitalizations and critical care stays.
Glatt, who is also Chief, Infectious Diseases & Hospital Epidemiologist at Mount Sinai South Nassau in New York, also told Fox News, “At the same time, primary vaccination of all unvaccinated people remains a top priority as well. Both are crucial, and efforts to increase vaccine availability for all people are essential.”
According to the WHO about 20 percent of COVID-19 vaccine doses worldwide, are used daily for booster or additional dose vaccination. To see if you are eligible for a booster vaccine you can go to the CDC website.