Assistant Director of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), Jarbas Barbosa was questioned during a press conference on Wednesday about the reinforcements in vaccines against covid-19. According to him, the entity’s position was adopted based on what was recommended by the Strategic Advisory Group of Specialists in Immunization (Sage, its acronym in English), which helps the World Health Organization (WHO).
Barbosa said, following a Sage recommendation, that a booster dose should be applied to immunosuppressed people, “moderate or severe”. In addition, he mentioned that in the case of the Chinese Sinovac and Sinopharm vaccines, research has shown that the effectiveness among older populations is lower than among younger ones, so in these cases, the booster dose for older people is also recommended. Sinovac is the manufacturer of Coronavac, one of the vaccines used in Brazil.
Barbosa said that, preferably, the reinforcement should be from the same manufacturer. If this is not available, however, it is possible to use a vaccine from another producer, with research showing that there is no problem with this, he commented.
In another moment of the press conference, the director of Opas, Carissa Etienne, recalled that the first peak of covid-19 in Brazil “unfortunately, it was very extensive”, reaching not only large cities, but also more remote areas. She also recalled that, in the second wave of the disease, with the presence of the gamma variant, health services were even more pressured. The director of PAHO, however, also mentioned positive aspects of the situation in the country, such as vaccination campaigns on weekends and the presence of “vaccine champions” to encourage the entire target population to get immunized.
During the press conference, PAHO also called for an effort to ensure that 40% of populations in all countries in the region are vaccinated by the end of this year. Etienne said that the organization registers an increase in cases among younger people, attributed in part to the fact that this group adopts fewer protective measures, but also because in several countries they have not been vaccinated, or have less access to immunizations because of now.
On the other hand, PAHO’s Incident manager, Sylvain Aldhigieri, mentioned at another time that the end-of-year parties “are more conducive” to the spread of covid-19, when asked about the possible risk of an increase in cases of the disease at the end of the year in Mexico. In response to another question, Jarbas Barbosa said that “it is difficult” to make a prediction about the pandemic in the Americas in 2022. In his assessment of the picture, he noted that only nine countries in the region were able to vaccinate more than 50% of their populations against the disease. virus, emphasizing the need to improve coverage across the region.
Etienne also cited some possible scenarios of PAHO for the pandemic, depending on advances in immunization. In one of them, with high vaccination coverage but without protective measures, countries would continue to be exposed to outbreaks of the disease, he warned. She said that covid-19 could become an endemic disease, which, according to the authority, is another reason to strengthen the distribution of vaccines among countries in the Americas.