Geneva/New Delhi | Jagran World Desk: World Health Organisation (WHO) experts on Tuesday warned that repeating booster doses of the original COVID-19 vaccines is not a viable strategy against emerging variants and called for new jabs that better protect against transmission.

A World Health Organization expert group gave its assessment on the performance of COVID-19 vaccines. They said that simply providing fresh jabs of existing Covid vaccines as new strains of the virus emerge was not the best way to fight the pandemic.

"A vaccination strategy based on repeated booster doses of the original vaccine composition is unlikely to be appropriate or sustainable," the WHO Technical Advisory Group on Covid-19 Vaccine Composition (TAG-Co-VAC) said in a statement.

WHO said preliminary data indicated the existing vaccines were less effective at preventing symptomatic COVID disease in people who have contracted the new Omicron variant, currently spreading like wildfire around the world.

But protection against severe disease, which is what the jabs were especially intended to do, "is more likely to be preserved".

"Covid-19 vaccines that have high impact on prevention of infection and transmission, in addition to the prevention of severe disease and death, are needed and should be developed," TAG-Co-VAC said.

Composition of current COVID-19 vaccine may need to be updated: WHO

WHO, while acknowledging that the new COVID-19 vaccines against the emerging variants may take time to become part of global vaccine arsenal, said that composition of current COVID-19 vaccine may need to be updated.

"Until such vaccines are available, and as the SARS-CoV-2 virus evolves, the composition of current Covid-19 vaccines may need to be updated, to ensure that (they) continue to provide WHO-recommended levels of protection against infection and disease by VOCs (variants of concern), including Omicron and future variants."

Who else is updating existing COVID-19 vaccines?

Experts in India and rest of the world in recent days had claimed that giving existing vaccines as booster jabs may not stop transmission of the virus despite being successful at preventing severe disease at the face of emerging variants. Following which, Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla told Wall Street Journal on Tuesday that the company will roll out an updated vaccine shot of its existing composition by as early as March 2022.

On updating the composition of existing vaccines to combat the spread of emerging COVID-19 variants, other vaccine makers such as Moderna, Johnson&Johnson and AstraZeneca are yet to react.

(With inputs from AFP)

Posted By: Mukul Sharma