The World Health Organization finds it rather improper for vaccinated persons to take COVID-19 booster shots while many others have yet even been able to get a single jab.
WHO chief Tedros Adhamon Ghebreyesus has issued a call for a halt administering booster jabs — at least until the end of September this year as the gap between vaccinations in wealthy and poor countries widens.
In what appears to be the strongest statement yet from the UN agency at a time when countries deliberate the need for boosters to combat the fast-spreading Delta variant of the coronavirus, Ghebreyesus said that while he understands government concerns over the vicious Delta variant, it is a must to give a premium on countries who have less access to the antidote.
“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 said.
According to the agency’s data, well-to-do countries administered around 50 doses for every 100 people in May, and that number has since doubled. In contrast, poor countries could only afford to administer 1.5 doses for every 100 people, due to supply issues.
“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.
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.
“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.
“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,” Dahl told Reuters.
Last week, Israeli President Isaac Herzog received the third shot of the coronavirus vaccine, kicking off a campaign to give booster doses to people aged over 60 in the country.
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.
U.S. health regulators are still assessing the need for a booster dose.