Frequently Asked Questions

Many of the COVID-19 vaccines studies have included a small number of people living with HIV in their trials. Despite limited data, available information suggests current WHO recommended COVID-19 vaccines (Pfizer/BioNtech, Oxford/AstraZeneca, Johnson&Johnson) are safe for people living with HIV. The currently available vaccine products are not live vaccines, they include genetic material from SARS-CoV-2 which cannot replicate. Therefore these vaccines are not expected to be less safe in people who are immunocompromised. In addition to this, no pharmacological interactions have been reported between COVID-19 vaccines and antiretroviral medications which people living with HIV should continue to take after vaccination to maintain health. Recently, a debate in the scientific literature has led to broader concerns about a potential association observed more than a decade ago between adenovirus vector-based vaccines and an increased risk of acquiring HIV infection among men who received this type of vaccine[1]. This unexpected finding was detected in two HIV vaccine trials that used adenovirus vector containing products[2],[3]. The reason for this observed HIV risk remains uncertain, although several follow-up studies have suggested a possible interference in the HIV specific vaccine response or in the CD4 cell susceptibility to HIV infection induced by this kind of vaccine[4],[5]. However, a third study using another adenovirus vector-based vaccine, conducted more recently has not reported this finding[6]. Specific studies on this topic with COVID-19 vaccines are needed. Despite these potential concerns, it is important to highlight that the benefits of all authorized COVID-19 vaccines in a pandemic context currently outweigh the potential risks. WHO will continue to monitor the situation as new data become available and SAGE recommendations will be updated accordingly.
No. The use of gloves by the public in public spaces is not a recommended or proven prevention measure. Wearing gloves in public spaces does not replace the need for hand hygiene, nor does it offer any additional measure of protection against the COVID-19 virus than hand hygiene. Gloves do not provide complete protection against hand contamination, as pathogens may gain access to the hands via small defects in gloves or by contamination of the hands during glove removal. People can also transfer pathogens from one surface to another by touching with gloved hands, or even transfer pathogens to the mouth, nose, or eyes if they touch their face with gloved hands.
Some people who have had COVID-19, whether they have needed hospitalization or not, continue to experience symptoms, including fatigue, respiratory and neurological symptoms. WHO is working with our Global Technical Network for Clinical Management of COVID-19, researchers and patient groups around the world to design and carry out studies of patients beyond the initial acute course of illness to understand the proportion of patients who have long term effects, how long they persist, and why they occur.  These studies will be used to develop further guidance for patient care.
Yes, women who are breastfeeding can take the vaccine when it becomes available to them. None of the currently approved vaccines use the live virus, so there is no risk of passing the virus to the baby through breastmilk. There is also some evidence that, after vaccination, antibodies are found in breastmilk, which may help protect the baby against COVID-19.
Yes. All age groups can catch COVID-19. While we are still learning about how COVID-19 affects people, so far, data suggests that children under the age of 18 years have few deaths compared to other age groups and usually mild disease. However, cases of critical illness have been reported. As with adults, pre-existing medical problems like high blood pressure, heart and lung problems, asthma, diabetes, obesity, cancer and neurological and developmental conditions are risk factors for severe disease and intensive care admission in children.