The World Health Organization (WHO) called for a moratorium on COVID-19 booster shots on Wednesday. They are in an effort to get more people around the world vaccinated.
According to a New York Times report, the organization called for the moratorium “until the end of September, so that vaccine supplies can be focused on helping all countries vaccinate at least 10 percent of their populations. The agency made its appeal to the world’s wealthiest nations to address the wide disparities in vaccination rates around the world.”
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of WHO, said this in a briefing, “I understand the concern of all governments to protect their people from the Delta variant.”
The doctor also noted, “But we cannot 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.”
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The Director-General is looking for an urgent reversal from the majority of vaccines going to high-income countries, to now the majority going to low-income countries. Ghebreyesus said, “Accordingly, 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.”
He believes that the G20 should play a vital leadership role because they are the countries that are the biggest producers, the biggest consumers and the biggest donors of COVID-19 vaccines. The doctor said that it is not an understatement to say, “That the course of the pandemic depends on the leadership of the G20 countries.”
Ghebreyesus explained that high-income countries have now administered almost 100 doses for every 100 people. In contrast, low-income countries have only been able to administer 1.5 doses for every 100 people, due to lack of supply.
He does not want his voice to stand alone, the doctor is calling on “everyone with influence — Olympic athletes, investors, business leaders, faith leaders, and every individual in their own family and community” to stand in support of the call for a moratorium.
Meanwhile, experts and officials have said that COVID-19 vaccine booster shots are not yet needed. And in July, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a joint statement on the topic of booster shots:
“Americans who have been fully vaccinated do not need a booster shot at this time. FDA, CDC, and NIH are engaged in a science-based, rigorous process to consider whether or when a booster might be necessary. This process takes into account laboratory data, clinical trial data, and cohort data – which can include data from specific pharmaceutical companies, but does not rely on those data exclusively. We continue to review any new data as it becomes available and will keep the public informed. We are prepared for booster doses if and when the science demonstrates that they are needed.”
Earlier this week, President Joe Biden said that the United States had delivered 110 million COVID-19 vaccine doses to 65 countries.
Elin Hoffmann Dahl, infectious diseases medical adviser to Medecins Sans Frontieres’ access campaign, said, “The fact that we are vaccinating healthy adults with a booster dose of COVID-19 vaccines is a short-sighted way of thinking.”
Dahl said in the interview, ”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.”
At home in America, U.S. health regulators were still assessing the need for a booster dose. It remains to be seen whether they will follow the moratorium called for by WHO.