WHO Representative emphasises importance of equality in vaccination hinh anh 1WHO Representative in Vietnam Dr Kidong Park. (Photo courtesy of WHO)

Hanoi (VNA) – As the COVID-19 pandemic has still been developing complicatedly in the world, the Vietnam News Agency (VNA)'s reporter had an interview with WHO Representative in Vietnam Dr Kidong Park about the booster shot and pharmaceutical firms’ announcements that their COVID-19 vaccines are efficient and safe for kids.

The following is the full text of the interview.

Reporter: What is the World Health Organization (WHO)’s opinion about the necessity to get a COVID-19 vaccine booster shot?

Dr Kidong Park: There are two key considerations guiding WHO’s position on booster doses. First is the scientific evidence. WHO is carefully monitoring the rapidly evolving body of evidence regarding the need for booster doses. There is currently no conclusive evidence stating that COVID-19 vaccine efficacy against severe disease and death wanes significantly over time.

There are several studies that indicate a decline in effectiveness against mild and moderate infection, however, prevention of severe disease and death is the most relevant outcome that the vaccines are intended to impact. There is emerging evidence that the vaccines have remained effective at preventing severe disease and death.

WHO has not ruled out that boosters for some populations groups may be warranted in the future. WHO will continue to monitor any new evidence and will review its position as the data evolve.

The second is the moral and ethical implications. Whilst huge inequities in vaccine rollout continue across the world, the priority should be on ensuring that all countries use limited vaccine supplies to provide high coverage of first and second doses, to priority populations such as the health workers and frontline responders, elderly and those with underlying medical conditions.

On August 4, 2021, WHO called for a time-limited moratorium on COVID-19 booster doses until the end of September with the intent to allow for at least 10 percent of every population of each country to be vaccinated.

WHO urges all countries to ensure that all vulnerable populations such as health workers and frontline responders, the elderly and those with underlying medical conditions receive the primary course of vaccination, prior to providing boosters.

Reporter: Many pharmaceutical brands have recently announced that their COVID-19 vaccines are efficient and safe for kids aged 3 years old above. What is WHO’s comment?

Dr Kidong Park: Efficacy and safety profiles of a vaccine in children might be different from those of adult. Injection volume for children might be different from those of adult.

Current evidence suggests that children in general are less likely to suffer from severe disease and death following COVID-19 infection or disease though children with underlying conditions are at increased risk of severe illness.

Because of this, COVID-19 vaccines are first developed for adult and priorities for vaccination are given to health care workers, frontline workers and high risk population such as elderly and persons with co-morbidities. 

After launching the vaccines for adults, the vaccine manufactures have continued its research for vaccines for children. To date, there is only one COVID-19 vaccine recommended for children from 12 – 18 years old by WHO Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunization (SAGE) and approved by the WHO Emergency Use Listing which is the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine.

We are aware that other vaccine manufacturers are also conducting researches for COVID-19 vaccine for children. Once data is available, the national regulatory authorities will evaluate and consider for emergency use authorization.  WHO will also do so an update its recommendation and Emergency Use Listing./.