Booster doses of COVID vaccines are needed as the highly contagious Omicron variant continues to spread worldwide, a World Health Organization expert group said Tuesday.
The group’s statement that it “strongly supports urgent and broad access” to booster doses contradicts the WHO’s previous stance that boosters aren’t necessary and contribute to vaccine inequality.
In January, WHO said boosters were recommended only after countries had adequate supplies of vaccine and after the most vulnerable people were vaccinated.
Now, a number of studies show that booster doses help restore weakening immunity and protect against severe COVID. Booster programs in the United States, Canada, Britain and other developed countries are pointed to as the reason why surges in Omicron cases haven’t overwhelmed hospitals, according to the Associated Press.
WHO said it is monitoring the global spread of Omicron, including a new “stealth version,” and noted that COVID vaccines are all based on the strain first detected in Wuhan, China, more than three years ago.
“Since then, there has been continuous and substantial virus evolution and it is likely that this evolution will continue, resulting in the emergence of new variants,” WHO said, adding it’s likely that COVID vaccines will need to be updated in the future, the AP reported.
Visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for more on COVID boosters.
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