Monday January 17, 2022

WHO experts support booster COVID-19 dose for immunocompromised

WHO's Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunisation says fully immunised over-60s should be offered a third dose

October 11, 2021
World Health Organisation logo. Photo: AFP
World Health Organisation logo. Photo: AFP

GENEVA: The World Health Organisation’s vaccine advisers Monday recommended that an additional dose of all authorised Covid-19 vaccines should be administered to people with weaker immune systems.

The UN health agency’s Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunisation (SAGE) also said over-60s who have been fully immunised with China’s Sinovac and Sinopharm vaccine should be offered an additional third Covid-19 vaccine dose.

The experts stressed they were not recommending an additional so-called booster dose for the population at large.

Several Covid-19 vaccines have been given WHO approval for emergency use during the pandemic: Pfizer-BioNTech, Janssen, Moderna, Sinopharm, Sinovac, and AstraZeneca.

It is on the verge of deciding whether to give emergency use listing to India’s Bharat Biotech jab.

SAGE held a four-day meeting last week to review the latest information and data on a range of vaccines for Covid-19 and other diseases.

"SAGE recommended that moderately and severely immunocompromised persons should be offered an additional dose of all WHO EUL (emergency use listing) Covid-19 vaccines as part of an extended primary series," the group said.

"These individuals are less likely to respond adequately to vaccination following a standard primary vaccine series and are at high risk of severe Covid-19 disease."

It also said that for people fully immunised with Sinovac and Sinopharm vaccines, an additional third dose of the same jab "should be offered to persons aged 60 and above".

A different vaccine "may also be considered based on vaccine supply and access considerations".

SAGE added that when implementing this recommendation, countries should initially aim at maximising two-dose coverage in that population, and thereafter administer the third dose, starting in the oldest age groups.