The W.H.O. seeks a moratorium on Covid vaccine boosters so more people can get initial shots.
The World Health Organization on Wednesday called for a moratorium on coronavirus booster vaccinations until the end of September, so that vaccine supplies can be focused on helping poorer countries to at least vaccinate ten percent of their population, reducing the wide disparities in immunization rates around the world.
“I understand the concern of all governments to protect their people from the Delta variant,” Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO director-general, told a briefing. “But we cannot – and we must not – accept that countries that have already used up most of the global vaccine supply are using even more, while the world’s most vulnerable people remain unprotected. “
Of the more than 4 billion doses of vaccine that have been administered worldwide, more than 80% were used in high and upper middle income countries, which represent less than half of the world’s population, said Dr Tedros . High-income countries administered nearly 100 doses per 100 people, he said, while low-income countries, which had administered 1.5 doses per 100 people due to a lack of supply.
“We need an urgent reversal, the majority of vaccines destined for high-income countries, the majority destined for low-income countries,” he said.
As the debate over booster injections has intensified, humanitarian groups have argued for a moral and scientific rationale for doses to be given first to vulnerable people in the poorest countries. African countries administered 5 doses per 100 people, compared to 88 doses per 100 people in Europe and 85 in North America.
While deaths have increased in African countries in recent months, some health workers and the elderly or vulnerable have remained completely unprotected. The urgency to vaccinate more people around the world has only increased as the Delta variant has become widespread: Delta is considerably more contagious than other variants and can cause more serious illness as well.
This made it unacceptable, Dr Tedros said, for the millions of unvaccinated people who could not stay home to go to work, exposed to transmission, while others in richer countries might be eligible for booster injections.
Scientists still have not reached a consensus on whether or not booster injections are necessary. But as concerns emerge over the continuation of pandemic waves and future lockdowns, a growing number of countries like Germany, Israel and France are preparing to give part of their population booster doses, or have already. start.
Studies have indicated that the immunity generated by the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines is long lasting. Researchers are still working to understand recent Israeli data suggesting that the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine declined in effectiveness months after inoculation.
The WHO appeal on Wednesday largely handed responsibility for closing the global vaccine gap to the world’s wealthiest nations, saying the leadership of the G-20 countries would determine the course of the pandemic. Dr Tedros called on health ministers from those countries, who are meeting ahead of a summit scheduled for October, to make “concrete commitments” to meeting the organization’s global immunization goals.
There is a clear incentive for richer countries to close immunization gaps in an ongoing crisis that has swept across every corner of the world, as the pandemic will not end “unless the whole world does.” pull together, ”Dr Bruce Aylward, WHO Senior Advisor. , said Wednesday. “With the huge disparity in immunization coverage, we’re just not going to get there.”
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