GABRIELLE REYES The World Health Organization (W.H.O.) warned international government health agencies Tuesday against administering “booster doses” of Chinese coronavirus vaccines to their populations.
“[A] vaccination strategy based on repeated booster doses of the original vaccine composition is unlikely to be appropriate or sustainable,” the W.H.O. wrote in a statement issued January 11 by its “Technical Advisory Group on COVID-19 Vaccine Composition.”
“COVID-19,” also known as the coronavirus, is the name of the disease caused by SARS-C0V-2, a type of coronavirus. A “booster shot” is an additional dose of a vaccine a person receives after he or she has completed the full series of an inoculation.
The W.H.O. cited the “evolution of the virus,” i.e. “SARS-C0V-2,” as a reason against recommending booster shots on Tuesday.
SARS-C0V-2 first emerged in central China’s Wuhan city in the autumn or winter of late 2019, though much about the circumstances surrounding the virus’s true origin remains unclear. The disease caused by the virus spawned an ongoing global pandemic first declared by the W.H.O. — which is the international public health body of the United Nations — on March 11, 2020. The W.H.O. said on January 11 it has designated five strains of SARS-C0V-2 as “variants of concern” since March 2020 — “namely Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta, and Omicron — due to their impact on transmission, disease severity, or capacity for immune escape.”
Omicron — first detected by scientists on November 11, 2021, in southern Africa — has proven especially capable of evading immunity imparted by all Chinese coronavirus vaccines currently available worldwide.
“A measure of antibody levels, called geometric mean titers, fell from 1,419 against the original coronavirus strain to 80 against omicron among people who received Pfizer shots,” Bloomberg reported on December 15, 2021.
“The same measure fell from 303 against the original strain to undetectable levels against omicron in those who had received J&J’s [Johnson & Johnson] shot,” the news agency added, citing the results of laboratory experiments on omicron’s “immune escape” released on December 14, 2021.
The study analyzed “blood plasma samples from people who had had two doses of the Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE vaccine and those or the J&J single-shot inoculation,” according to Bloomberg.
“Omicron does indeed exhibit substantial immune escape from antibodies,” Penny Moore, a South African virologist who led the study, said in a presentation of her findings.
“The situation, I think, is even more alarming for the J&J vaccine — there was no detectable neutralization in our assay,” she revealed.
AstraZeneca’s coronavirus vaccine “becomes completely ineffective against the Omicron variant by 15 weeks,” FDAnews reported on December 17, 2021, citing a preliminary effectiveness study conducted in Britain.
Pfizer and BioNTech acknowledged their coronavirus vaccine’s inability to prevent infections by the omicron strain of SARS-CoV-2 in a press release issued on December 8, 2021.
The pharmaceutical giants framed the failure as an opportunity for people to opt for a third “booster” dose of their Chinese coronavirus vaccine series, which originally required just two doses for completion.
Israel’s government on December 31, 2021, became one of the first in the world to begin administering a fourth dose of Chinese coronavirus vaccines to members of its population in an effort to protect its citizens against emerging strains of SARS-CoV-2.
The European Medicines Agency (E.M.A.), which is the official health regulator for the European Union (E.U.) issued a warning on January 11 against administering a fourth “booster” shot of coronavirus vaccines, reminding the global public that there is no data supporting the efficacy or safety of this novel strategy.
E.M.A. vaccine strategy chief Marco Cavaleri told reporters on Tuesday “there was still no data supporting the need for a fourth COVID [Chinese coronavirus] vaccine dose.”
Recipients of such booster doses could possibly develop “problems with [their] immune response,” Cavaleri further cautioned.
“While use of additional boosters can be part of contingency plans, repeated vaccinations within short intervals would not represent a sustainable long-term strategy,” the E.M.A. official said at a press briefing.