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WHO says there is no evidence that healthy children, adolescents need Covid boosters

World Health Organization (WHO) Chief Researcher Soumya Swaminathan is attending a press conference hosted by the Geneva Association of United Nations Correspondents (ACANU) amid the COVID-19 outbreak, caused by the new coronavirus, at WHO headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland on July 3, 2020.

Fabrice Coffrini | Reuters

There is "no evidence right now" that suggests healthy children and adolescents need booster shots to supplement their Covid-19 vaccinations, said the World Health Organization's lead researcher Dr. Soumya Swaminathan on Tuesday.

Swaminathan said the agency's advisory group, called the Sage, or Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunization, will meet later this week to consider how countries should think about giving booster shots.

"The goal is to protect the most vulnerable, to protect those at greatest risk of serious illness and death, that is our elderly population, immunocompromised with underlying conditions and also health professionals," Swaminathan said in WHO media briefing.

Dr. Michael Ryan, executive director of the WHO's health emergency program, said the agency still has not figured out how often or how many doses people will eventually need.

"I think people have some fear out there that this booster thing will be like every two or three months and everyone will have to go and get a booster. And I do not think we have the answer to that. yet "said Ryan.

He said researchers can ultimately redefine how many doses are required in the primary series of Covid shots. While most healthy people may only need two shots, he said the elderly or immunocompromised may need three or four.

Swaminathan's and Ryan's comments come about two weeks after the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention approved booster shots for teens ages 12 to 17, amid the current rise in coronavirus cases due to the highly contagious omicron variant.

The increase has also led to a sharp increase in pediatric cases. In the week ending January 6, more than 580,000 pediatric corona cases were reported, marking a 78% increase from the week ending December 30, according to the latest updated data from the American Academy of Pediatrics.

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