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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The World Health Organization anticipates vulnerable populations will need to get an annual COVID-19 booster shot to be protected against variants, while the general population may need one every two years, Reuters reports, citing an internal document.

Why it matters: The WHO forecasts that the need for boosters in wealthier countries could push poorer nations, which have barely received any vaccine, to the back of the line and further widen the gap of vaccine inequality.

Yes, but: The document does not say how these conclusions were reached and notes it's still a "work in progress."

On Wednesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's advisory committee said the vulnerable, like the elderly and transplant recipients, might need annual boosters but there was yet not enough evidence to support the need for boosters for the general population.

  • Pfizer and Moderna have publicly been in support of boosters but there has been little long-term scientific evidence.

The big picture: The estimates are expected to be discussed on Thursday at a board meeting of Gavi, a vaccine alliance that co-leads COVAX.

Go deeper

Sep 20, 2021 - World

Biden to push vaccine-sharing at UN, but boosters at home

Expand chart
Data: Our World in Data; Chart: Kavya Beheraj/Axios

President Biden will convene world leaders on Wednesday on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly to push them to do more to end the pandemic — though he's also facing criticism for prioritizing boosters at home.

Why it matters: There is still no functional plan in place to vaccinate the world, and past summits of this sort have flopped. The White House hopes that this virtual gathering will produce ambitious promises, accountability measures to track progress, and ultimately help achieve a 70% global vaccination rate this time next year.

Fauci: Vaccinating the unvaccinated remains the "highest priority"

NIAID director Anthony Fauci said Sunday that while the coronavirus vaccine booster rollout is important, the "highest priority" is to vaccinate the unvaccinated.

Why it matters: Fauci's statements on NBC's "Meet the Press" come days after an FDA advisory panel voted against recommending Pfizer vaccine booster shots for younger Americans, pouring cold water on the Biden administration's plan to begin administering boosters to most individuals.

Sep 21, 2021 - Health

U.S. COVID death toll surpasses 1918 flu fatalities

White flags are seen on the National Mall on Sept. 18, honoring Americans who have lost their lives to COVID-19 epidemic. Photo: Chen Mengtong/China News Service via Getty Images

The recorded number COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. has now surpassed the known number of fatalities from the 1918 flu pandemic.

The big picture: The U.S. has now marked more than 676,000 deaths from the coronavirus, according to Johns Hopkins University data. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that the 1918 pandemic killed about about 675,000 people.