The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that people with weakened immune systems be given the shot booster (booster) COVID-19 vaccine. The WHO’s vaccine advisory panel said additional doses would help people with impaired immunity because standard vaccinations tend to be less effective for this population. They are at high risk of developing severe COVID-19 disease.
The panel, called the Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunization (SAGE), also recommended booster injections for people over 60 who have received vaccines made in China, Sinopharm and Sinovac. The panel cited evidence in studies in Latin America that the vaccine did not work well over time.
The panel does not recommend additional booster doses for the general population and says it will review the issue of widespread use of boosters on November 11.
The WHO has called for a moratorium on booster doses for the general population until the end of the year to allow more people around the world to get their first share of the vaccine.
In another development, drugmaker Merck on Monday asked US regulators to authorize its pill to treat mild to moderate COVID-19, which if approved would be the first oral drug for the disease.
Merck said its antiviral pill, called molnupiravir, reduced hospitalization and death rates by 50% in a trial of patients with mild to moderate COVID-19 illness, with at least one risk factor for the disease.
Merck and partner Ridgeback Biotherapeutic have asked the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to grant a permit for emergency use of the pill. All previously FDA-approved drugs require injections or IVs.
Drugmaker AstraZeneca, which is developing one of the first vaccines for COVID-19, said Monday it is seeing promising results with a COVID-19 drug under development to combat the coronavirus.
Known as AZD7442, the drug reduces by 50% the severity of COVID-19 or death in patients who are not hospitalized, according to AstraZeneca.
Also on Monday, Swiss drugmaker Roche said it had applied to market an antibody concoction for COVID-19 in the European Union.
The treatment, co-developed with US biotechnology company Regeneron, is a combination of monoclonal antibodies to prevent patients from developing severe disease. Called Ronapreve, the drug was given to former US President Donald Trump while he was battling COVID-19. (lt/ka)