WHO calls for halt on COVID-19 vaccine booster shots

SWITZERLAND – The World Health Organization is calling for a moratorium on COVID-19 vaccine boosters until at least the end of September, its head Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus announced as the gap between vaccinations in wealthy and poor countries widens.

The move was to enable that at least 10 percent of the population of every country was vaccinated, Tedros said.

I understand the concern of all governments to protect their people from the Delta variant. But we cannot accept countries that have already used most of the global supply of vaccines using even more of it,” Tedros added.

High-income countries administered around 50 doses for every 100 people in May, and that number has since doubled, according to WHO. Low-income countries have only been able to administer 1.5 doses for every 100 people, due to lack of supply.

Tedros said the situation needed to flip into a scenario where the majority of vaccines going to high-income countries go to low-income countries.

To counter the spread of the Delta variant, some countries have begun to use or started weighing on the need for booster doses even as scientists’ debate over whether or not extra shots are needed.

Last week, Israeli President Isaac Herzog received a third shot of coronavirus vaccine, kicking off a campaign to give booster doses to people aged over 60 in the country.

Equally, the United States in July signed a deal with Pfizer Inc and German partner BioNTech to buy 200 million additional doses of their COVID-19 vaccine to help with pediatric vaccination as well as possible booster shots.

Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said people will likely need a booster dose of a Covid-19 vaccine within 12 months of getting fully vaccinated.

The comment came after Johnson & Johnson CEO Alex Gorsky told CNBC in February that people may need to get vaccinated against Covid-19 annually, just like seasonal flu shots.

“The fact that we are vaccinating healthy adults with a booster dose of COVID-19 vaccines is a short-sighted way of thinking,” said Elin Hoffmann Dahl, infectious diseases medical adviser to Medecins Sans Frontieres’ access campaign.

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