WHO Calls for Wealthy Countries to Halt Booster Shots to Help Poorer Nations Get Vaccines

The World Health Organization called for a moratorium on booster shots until at least the end of September to help distribute vaccines to the rest of the world, CNN reports.

"WHO is calling for a moratorium on boosters until at least the end of September to enable at least 10% of the population of every country to be vaccinated. To make that happen, we need everyone's cooperation, especially the handful of countries and companies that control the global supply of vaccines," WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said at a news conference on Wednesday.

"Even while hundreds of millions of people are still waiting for their first dose, some rich countries are moving towards booster doses," he said. "So far more than 4 billion vaccine doses have been administered globally. More than 80% have gone to high and upper middle income countries, even though they account for less than half of the world's population."

European countries plan boosters:

While US medical experts have downplayed the need for boosters for the vast majority of people, except perhaps for the elderly and immunocompromised, Germany, the UK, and Israel have all already announced plans to provide boosters to the most vulnerable.

Tedros said he understood the desire to protect people from the Delta variant but "we cannot and we should not accept countries that have already used most of the global supply of vaccines using even more of it while the world's most vulnerable people remain unprotected."

Medical experts have warned against boosters for most people.

"The fact that we are vaccinating healthy adults with a booster dose of COVID-19 vaccines is a short-sighted way of thinking," Elin Hoffmann Dahl, infectious diseases medical adviser to Medecins Sans Frontieres, told Reuters. "With the emergence of new variants, if we continue to leave the majority of the world unvaccinated, we will most definitely need adjusted vaccines in the future.”

Growing disparities:

Tedros back in May called for wealthy countries to help the world vaccinate at least 10% of their residents in every nation.

At the time, wealthy countries were administering about 50 shots per 100 people per day but the number has since doubled to 100 doses per 100 people.

Low income countries, on the other hand, are only averaging 1.5 doses per 100 people per day due to lack of supply.

"We need an urgent reversal from the majority of vaccines going to high income countries to the majority going to low income countries," Tedros said.


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