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October 29, 2021
Agree to Disagree: Are Booster Shots Unethical?

The boosters are rolling out. In places likes the U.S., Britain, Israel, Germany and France, authorities are providing additional Covid-19 vaccines with the goal of bolstering immune systems and shoring up their economies. Though vaccines such as Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech have proven highly effective against the virus, efficacy wanes after six months, rendering older adults and those with weakened immune systems more vulnerable. Yet a debate about fairness is growing. Billions of people haven gotten at least one dose of the Covid-19 vaccine, though much of the planet remains unvaccinated, beleaguered by lingering scarcities and difficultly of transport. Offering booster shots to those who have already gotten their jabs is akin to “hand[ing] out extra life jackets to people who already have life jackets” while “leaving other people to drown," said World Health Organization Emergency Director Mike Ryan. Not so, say others. Places like the U.S. were not only global hotspots for the viral transmission, but they also remain as core threats to the global economy with the increased threat and spread of Covid variants. Though getting the rest of the globe vaccinated is critically important, it is unrealistic, they argue, for political leaders to ignore these threats to their own populations. In the context of this emerging divide, we ask the question: Are booster shots unethical?

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About The Debaters
An image of Vin Gupta
Vin Gupta − Pulmonologist and Professor of Health Metrics Sciences at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation
Gupta is a Harvard-trained lung specialist with experience of more than 15 years in working worldwide to improve... read bio
An image of Leana Wen
Leana Wen − Former Baltimore Health Commissioner and Emergency Physician
Dr. Leana Wen is an emergency physician and public health professor at George Washington University. Previously, she... read bio