Too soon for COVID-19 booster shots? Niagara Region’s Head of Infectious Diseases says yes

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Published August 24, 2021 at 3:49 pm

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“You can’t locally ‘boost’ your way out of a global pandemic,” Niagara Region’s Head of Infectious Diseases said today (August 24).

“Vaccine inequity has created a feast or famine situation all across (the world). The ‘Have nots’ and the ‘Have lots’ will determine our collective future,” Dr Karim Ali said, adding that people should be listening to the World Health Organization (WHO), the one body that looks at the pandemic beyond individual country borders.

Earlier this month, the head of the WHO called for a two-month moratorium on administering booster shots of COVID-19 vaccines as a means of reducing global vaccine inequality and preventing the emergence of new coronavirus variants.

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told reporters that he was “really disappointed” with the scope of vaccine donations worldwide as many countries struggle to provide first and second doses to more than small fractions of their populations while wealthier nations maintain growing vaccine stockpiles.

Canada can definitely be considered one of the wealthy nations with a healthy stockpile of vaccines.

After stumbling out of the vaccination gate due to a lack of homegrown manufacturers, Oakville MP Anita Anand, also the federal Minister of Procurement, has steadily brought in enough out-of-country vaccines to push Canada to the top of the list as the country most vaccinated.

In fact, Anand has already inked deals for a further 105 million vaccines, slated for 2022 and 2023.

However, with the US talking about booster vaccination shots as early as mid-September, that has thrown the how-soon-is-too-soon question onto the international table.

In early August, Hungary became the first country in the 27-member European Union to allow residents to sign up for a third dose, and more than 187,000 people have received a booster so far, according to government statistics.

Tedros said that of the 4.8 billion vaccine doses delivered to date globally, 75 per cent have gone to only 10 countries (Canada among them) while vaccine coverage in Africa is at less than two per cent.

He warns that the virus will get the chance to circulate in countries with low vaccination coverage “and the Delta variant could evolve to become more virulent, and at the same time more potent variants could also emerge.”

So far, Canada’s chief public health officer Dr Theresa Tam has only said, “There’s not enough data to suggest that in Canada we would go into boosting as of yet. But, it is something that we’re watching very carefully.”

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