WHO Urges Two-Month Freeze on Booster Shots to Cut Vaccine Inequity

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Bloomberg Quicktake: Now published this video item, entitled “WHO Urges Two-Month Freeze on Booster Shots to Cut Vaccine Inequity” – below is their description.

The head of the World Health Organization on Monday called for a two-month moratorium on administering booster shots of COVID-19 vaccines as a means of reducing global vaccine inequality and preventing the emergence of new coronavirus variants.

While Hungary’s foreign minister Peter Szijjarto said Hungary has 8 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine in storage, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus called for more solidarity with other countries having difficulties in their vaccination campaign.

Tedros told reporters in Hungary’s capital of Budapest that he was “really disappointed” with the scope of vaccine donations worldwide as many countries were struggling to provide first and second doses to more than small fractions of their populations while wealthier nations maintain growing vaccine stockpiles.

He called on countries offering third vaccine doses “to share what they can be used for boosters with other countries, so other countries can increase their first or second coverage, vaccination coverage.”

Several countries including the United States, Israel, and Hungary, as well as others in Europe, the Middle East and Asia, are already offering or planning to offer their populations COVID-19 booster shots.

In early August, Hungary became the first country in the 27-member European Union to allow residents to sign up for a third dose, and more than 187,000 people have received a booster so far, according to government statistics.

Last week, U.S. health officials announced plans to dispense COVID-19 booster shots to all Americans in an effort to shore up protection against a surge in cases attributed to the delta variant and signs that the vaccines’ effectiveness is slipping.

Yet the U.N. health agency has repeatedly called for rich nations to do more to help improve access to vaccines in the developing world.

On Monday, Tedros said that of the 4,8 billion vaccine doses delivered to date globally, 75% have gone to only 10 countries while vaccine coverage in Africa is at less than 2%.

He called this “vaccine injustice and vaccine nationalism” which increase the risk of more contagious variants emerging.

“No one is safe until everyone is safe. Good coverage in some countries cannot really push this pandemic away. We need to do it in the whole world,” he said.

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