The World Health Organization’s director-general is calling for a worldwide moratorium on COVID-19 booster shots until at least the end of September, to allow low-income nations to get more initial vaccination doses.
At a media briefing at the agency’s Geneva headquarters, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus once again brought up inequities in worldwide vaccine allocation, noting more than 80 percent of the four billion COVID-19 vaccine doses administered globally are going to high- and upper-middle income countries, “even though they account for less than half of the world’s population.”
And now, the WHO chief said, some of those nations are moving toward administering booster shots to protect against the delta variant of the virus that causes COVID-19, while millions in low-income countries are waiting for their first shot.
Tedros said lower income nations have vaccinated at a rate of about 1.5 doses per 100 people, while wealthy nations are vaccinating at rate of nearly 100 per 100 people. He said, “We need an urgent reversal, from the majority of vaccines going to high-income countries, to the majority going to low-income countries.”
He said the WHO is calling for a moratorium on booster shots until at least the end of September, to give the world a chance to reach his goal of vaccinating least 10% of the population of every country. He said, “To make that happen, we need everyone’s cooperation, especially the handful of countries and companies that control the global supply of vaccines.”
Tedros called on the Group of 20 economic powers (G20) meeting next month in Rome to make concrete commitments to support the WHO’s global vaccination targets.
The WHO chief called on “everyone with influence – Olympic athletes, investors, business leaders, faith leaders and every individual in their own family and community” – to support the call for a moratorium on booster shots until at least the end of September.