“We seem to have lost perspective as to what the major goal of vaccines is and where they are going to yield the greatest public health benefit,” says Shabir Madhi, a prominent vaccine researcher at South Africa’s University of Witwatersrand.
Specifically, Madhi argues that governments in countries that still have low vaccination rates should shift their attention to vaccinating those who are most vulnerable to severe disease from the coronavirus. That means people age 50 and above or those with health conditions that put them at particular risk. The aim, says Madhi, should be to get 90% or more of people in this category vaccinated.
Unfortunately, he says, that effort is being hampered by a simultaneous push to meet a different goal – vaccinating 70% of all adults regardless of age or health status. It’s an objective originally conceived by the World Health Organization, then embraced and promoted by the United States. But, says Madhi, it’s a goal that could now be proving a harmful distraction.