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The World Health Organization’s (WHO) chief scientist Soumya Swaminathan said Tuesday that there is no current evidence that suggests healthy adolescents or children need COVID-19 vaccine booster doses.
Speaking at a news briefing, Swaminathan explained that more research is necessary on the shots going forward, and that the agency had been making decisions based on current science.
“There is no evidence right now that healthy children or healthy adolescents need boosters. No evidence at all,” she said.
Swaminathan said a panel would meet later this week to consider the question of how countries should be giving out boosters “with the view to reducing deaths.”
The vaccines, she noted, provide levels of protection against severe disease.
“That’s the outcome we’re most interested in: protection against death. Against omicron, many of the vaccines have shown a reduction in efficacy against infection. And, that’s why we see a lot of breakthrough infections. But, these are mostly not resulting in severe disease,” Swaminathan explained.
She noted that while there “is some waning which occurs over a period of time” and a “slight drop” in protection, the aim is to protect the most vulnerable and those at highest risk of severe disease and death.
“Those are our elderly populations, immunocompromised people with underlying conditions, but also health care workers,” Swaminathan added.
In the U.S, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has authorized boosters of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for emergency use in children as young as 12 years old.
The FDA also announced at the beginning of the month that people ages 12 and up can get Pfizer booster shots after only five months, compared to the previous six-month interval.
Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that more than 81 million eligible Americans have received a booster shot thus far.