Geneva: An expert panel of the World Health Organization (WHO) on Monday advised that people with weak immune systems should be offered an additional dose of all WHO-approved Covid-19 vaccines. The UN health agency’s experts also said over-60s fully immunised with China’s Sinovac and Sinopharm vaccines should be offered an additional third Covid-19 vaccine dose.Also Read - Russia COVID-19 Cases Soar High With 35,660 New Cases, 1,072 Deaths in a Day

“SAGE recommended that moderately and severely immunocompromised persons should be offered an additional dose of all WHO EUL Covid-19 vaccines as part of an extended primary series,” the group said. “These individuals are less likely to respond adequately to vaccination following a standard primary vaccine series and are at high risk of severe Covid-19 disease,” it added. Also Read - Breaking News LIVE Updates Oct 25, 2021: Decline in India’s Covid Cases Slows to 1% in Post-Festive Week

Kate O’Brien, the WHO’s vaccines chief, said the extra dose should be considered as part of the normal Covid-19 immunisation course for people with weaker immune systems, to be administered after a wait of one to three months. It should bring their level of protection up to that demonstrated to prevent against severe disease, hospitalisation and death in clinical trials — from which people with immunocompromised conditions were excluded. Also Read - Uttar Pradesh Reports First Zika Virus Case in Kanpur, Team of Experts Sent From Delhi

However, the Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunisation (SAGE) stressed that it was not recommending the additional booster dose for the population at large, which is already being rolled out in some countries. The WHO wants a moratorium on booster doses for the general population until the end of the year to prioritise first doses in the dozens of nations starved of vaccines.

So far, several Covid-19 vaccines have been given WHO approval for emergency use during the pandemic: Pfizer-BioNTech, Janssen, Moderna, Sinopharm, Sinovac and AstraZeneca. SAGE said it would review the issue of general booster doses on November 11. Meanwhile, the WHO is also on the verge of deciding whether to give emergency use listing (EUL) to India’s Bharat Biotech jab. SAGE held a four-day meeting last week to review the latest information and data on a range of vaccines for Covid-19 and other diseases.

SAGE also said that for people fully immunised with Sinovac and Sinopharm vaccines — both two-dose regimens — an additional third shot of the same jab “should be offered to persons aged 60 and above”. A different vaccine “may also be considered based on vaccine supply and access considerations”.

SAGE added that when implementing this recommendation, countries should initially aim at maximising two-dose coverage in that population, and thereafter administer the third dose, starting in the oldest age groups. According to an AFP count, the Sinopharm jab is used in 69 countries, while Sinovac has been rolled out in 36.

Algeria, Egypt, Ethiopia, Pakistan and the Philippines are among the countries using both jabs, besides China. Sinopharm is also used in Bangladesh, Hungary, Iran, Kenya, Nigeria, Peru, Sri Lanka and the United Arab Emirates. Sinovac is used by Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Mexico, Singapore, Turkey and the Ukraine.