An Argument For Covid-19 Booster Shots To Protect The Vulnerable

On Monday, amid reports that the highly infectious Delta variant is causing surges in new Covid-19 infections in states with low vaccination rates and countries with vaccine shortages, Pfizer announced plans to seek emergency authorization as early as next month for booster shots that would complement its existing two-dose regimen and ideally, protect against emergent and future variants of SARS-CoV-2. Almost immediately the drug company’s statement was met with fierce criticism from the World Health Organization (WHO) and equivocation from US health officials. WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said at a press conference that such ventures reflect a conscious choice “not to protect those in need”—referring to countries where the vast majority of the population has yet to receive even one shot—while the CDC and FDA also questioned the timing of the proposal, claiming the evidence that might justify the urgency is lacking. The real issue, however, isn’t whether we should develop boosters or not, but who and what is to blame for the lack of progress in worldwide vaccination efforts. The WHO posits that pharmaceutical giants like Pfizer and wealthy nations like the United States have taken more than their fair share of available resources, creating conditions of scarcity for populations who need them most. However, Tedros’ argument only deflects attention from the glaring reality that low-income countries are in dire need not of more vaccine donations, but more vaccine manufacturing capacity—a root cause that delaying the production of booster shots won’t fix. Read full article on Forbes Originally published on Forbes (July 16, 2021)
© William A. Haseltine, PhD. All Rights Reserved.