People with compromised immune systems who have been fully vaccinated against the coronavirus should get an additional dose of any WHO-approved COVID-19 vaccine, according to a WHO advisory group.
“SAGE recommended that moderately and severely immunocompromised persons should be offered an additional dose of all WHO EUL COVID-19 vaccines as part of an extended primary series,” the Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunization (SAGE) said in a statement.
Vaccines will not be the only factor resulting in the end of the COVID-19 pandemic but are an important contributor to its end, experts from the group said, speaking about boosters and hesitancy.
At a UN press conference, the group said they met from Oct. 4-7 to review the latest information and data on vaccines for COVID-19 vaccines and wanted to examine the issue more closely.
They said COVID-19 vaccine rollouts have started in all WHO regions, though the pace of vaccination varies considerably between and within regions, mainly driven by unequal access to vaccine supply.
Fifty-six countries found predominantly in the African and Eastern Mediterranean regions were unable to achieve the target of fully vaccinating 10% of their populations by September 2021, mainly because of a lack of vaccine doses.
“There’s been much in the press, and much in the scientific literature…about the use of additional doses beyond those doses that were tested in the context of clinical trials, and the phrasing that is used around additional doses is often referred to as a booster dose,” said Dr. Katherine O’Brien, the WHO’s director of the Department of Immunization, Vaccines and Biologicals.
SAGE made its call since immunocompromised individuals are less likely to respond adequately to vaccination following a standard primary vaccine series and are at high risk of severe COVID-19.