WHO’s top scientist says there’s ‘no evidence’ healthy kids, teens need booster shots against COVID

Joined by public health officials and pharmaceutical companies, President Joe Biden and others in his administration have long been urging Americans of all ages to get vaccinated — and “boosted” — against COVID-19.

But according to Reuters, the chief scientist at the World Health Organization (WHO) has admitted there’s “no evidence” that healthy children and teenagers actually need a booster shot to fend off the coronavirus.

Instead, the WHO’s top scientist, Soumya Swaminathan, told reporters this week that more research is needed on the topic. In the meantime, she suggested that individuals who are more vulnerable to the disease get priority when it comes to receiving booster doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.

“No evidence at all”

The admission from the WHO’s top scientist came during a media briefing Tuesday involving several of the global organization’s senior officials. There, Swaminathan pumped the brakes on assertions from American officials and those in the mainstream media about the need for booster shots among young people.

“There is no evidence right now that healthy children or healthy adolescents need boosters. No evidence at all,” Swaminathan said Tuesday, according to Reuters.

Swaminathan also noted that vaccines and booster shots aren’t intended to stop transmission of the coronavirus disease — as President Biden once claimed — but rather to reduce the odds of serious illness resulting in hospitalization or death.

“That’s the outcome we’re most interested in: protection against death,” Swaminathan said, according to Fox News. “Against omicron, many of the vaccines have shown a reduction in efficacy against infection. And, that’s why we see a lot of breakthrough infections. But these are mostly not resulting in severe disease.”

She went on to insist that the focus with regard to booster shots should be aimed at those who are most at-risk. “Those are our elderly populations, immunocompromised people with underlying conditions, but also health care workers,” Swaminathan said.

CDC vs. WHO

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Swaminathan’s assertions haven’t swayed many mainstream journalists. On Tuesday, the same day that Swaminathan gave her take, NBC News’ Chicago affiliate was still promoting the narrative that kids and teens do need to receive booster shots in order to be fully protected against COVID-19.

In its report, NBC Chicago noted that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) had recently authorized booster doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for children ages 12-15, lumping them in with 16- and 17-year-olds, who were already authorized and encouraged to receive the booster shots.

The CDC also recommended booster shots for certain children ages 5-11 who are immunocompromised or who have other underlying conditions making them more vulnerable to a severe COVID-19 infection.

While questions about boosters may still be up for debate, one thing is for certain: All this back-and-forth between public health officials isn’t helping them regain the credibility they’ve lost over the last two years as the pandemic raged on worldwide.

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