The Covid-19 booster shot is planned to start distribution the week of Sep. 20, but World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus wants the plan put on pause.
According to WHO’s latest call for a moratorium on Covid-19 booster shots, high-income countries, such as America, should wait to distribute the third dose until more people have gotten their first vaccine.
Speaking on Wednesday about the inequality of vaccine access, Dr. Tedros said that it would be more important to make sure that unvaccinated people are given the available vaccines before vaccinated people are given a third shot.
The WHO Director-General noted that “of the 5.5 billion vaccine doses administered worldwide, 80 percent have been given to high and upper-middle-income countries.”
Of the low-income countries whose goal was to reach at least 10 percent of the population vaccinated, not one has achieved the milestone yet. Even in high-income countries like the U.S., Dr. Tedros stressed that the unvaccinated should have more access to the boosters than those who have already received two doses.
He also reported that even though high-income countries had promised to donate over 10 billion doses to more low-income countries, less than 15 percent of the promised doses have arrived.
“Because manufacturers have prioritized or been legally obliged to fulfill bilateral deals with rich countries willing to pay top dollar, low-income countries have been deprived of the tools to protect their people,” Dr. Tedros said.
Revealing that he was “appalled” by the lack of help to make sure that Covid-19 was eradicated worldwide, the WHO director said that “there has been a lot of talk about vaccine equity but too little action.”
“We don’t want any more promises,” he pleaded. “We just want the vaccines.”
Despite information from the United States that the Covid-19 booster shot would be needed months after receiving your second dose, scientist at the World Health Organization and the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) now say that the booster shot might not do any more than the first two doses at combatting Covid-19 or the surging delta variant.
According to Arts Technica, two top vaccine regulators at the FDA resigned amid tensions with President Biden’s Administration. The office had put pressure on them to allow boosters for children under the age of 12, which the FDA said was still under investigation and evaluation.
WHO maintained this week that the Covid-19 booster shots still lacked clinical evidence that it was needed.
“The vaccines are holding up very, very well against the severe end of the disease spectrum,” said Kate O’Brien, director of the WHO’s Department of Immunization, Vaccines, and Biologicals. “Saying that no one is safe until everyone is safe—it’s not a slogan, it’s science. “We’re not asking to withhold something for which there is a strong set of evidence that it is needed.”
Mike Ryan, executive director of WHO’s Health Emergencies Program, likened giving the Covid-19 booster shot to vaccinated citizens of high-income countries to that of giving someone an extra life jacket who already has one. While the booster shot may make an individual better protected against Covid-19, the WHO says it wouldn’t make the world at large any safer from the virus.
The new WHO Covid-19 booster shot moratorium was recommended for the start of 2022.
Disregarding the WHO’s pleas, Official White House Press Secretary Jennifer Psaki said that WHO was giving the United States a “false choice.”
According to Psaki, the U.S. will continue to roll out the booster shots starting the week of Sep. 20, as the country tries to halt the spread of the Delta variant by strengthening those who have already been vaccinated.