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COVID vaccine: WHO calls for suspension of booster shots to tackle distribution inequality

COVID vaccine: WHO calls for suspension of booster shots to tackle distribution inequality
August 04
18:02 2021

Tedros Ghebreyesus, director-general of the World Health Organisation (WHO), has called for a suspension of COVID-19 booster shots till the end of September.

Coronavirus booster shot is an extra dose given to people to maintain vaccine-induced protection against the virus.

Some countries have started administering booster shots to people owing to the spike in infections as a result of new strains of COVID-19, including the highly infectious Delta variant.

Speaking during a media briefing on Wednesday, Ghebreyesus said suspending booster shots will enable at least 10 percent of the population of every country to be vaccinated.

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He said while more than four billion vaccine doses have been administered globally, many vulnerable people, especially in low-income countries, remain unprotected.

“These populations need vaccines urgently, especially health workers, older people and other vulnerable groups. And yet even while hundreds of millions of people are still waiting for their first dose, some rich countries are moving towards booster doses,” he said.

“So far, more than 4 billion vaccine doses have been administered globally. More than 80% have gone to high- and upper-middle income countries, even though they account for less than half of the world’s population.

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“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, while the world’s most vulnerable people remain unprotected.

“In late May, I called for global support for a “sprint to September”, to enable every country to vaccinate at least 10% of its population by the end of September. We’re now more than halfway to that target date, but we’re not on track.

“When I issued that challenge in May, high-income countries had administered around 50 doses for every 100 people. Since then, that number has doubled. High-income countries have now administered almost 100 doses for every 100 people.

“Meanwhile, low-income countries have only been able to administer 1.5 doses for every 100 people, due to lack of supply. 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.”

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The WHO director-general said cooperation is needed, especially from countries and companies that control the global supply of vaccines.

“The G20 has a vital leadership role to play, as the countries that are the biggest producers, the biggest consumers and the biggest donors of COVID-19 vaccines,” he said.

“One month from now, the G20 health ministers will meet, ahead of the G20 summit in October. I call on them to make concrete commitments to support WHO’s global vaccination targets.

“We call on vaccine producers to prioritise COVAX. And we call on everyone with influence – Olympic athletes, investors, business leaders, faith leaders, and every individual in their own family and community – to support our call for a moratorium on booster shots until at least the end of September.”

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