The World Health Organization (WHO) on Wednesday, August 4, requested countries to hold off their COVID-19 booster shot consideration until at least the end of September, citing a need in developing countries where most people were still unvaccinated.
“I understand the concern of all governments to protect their people from the Delta variant,” said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO director-general, during a Wednesday news conference, reports Reuters.
“We cannot and should not 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,” he argued.
The UN agency’s request for a moratorium is its strongest yet, coming as governments debate whether boosters are needed to tackle the wild-spreading Delta strain of the CCP virus.
For the time being, Tedros believes the focus should be on attaining the UN’s target of achieving 10% vaccine coverage in every country by the end of September.
WHO said that high-income countries distributed roughly 50 doses per 100 individuals in May, and that number has now increased. Due to a paucity of supplies, low-income countries have only been able to provide 1.5 doses per 100 individuals.
The Washington Post added that only 20% of the vaccines had been administered to countries with poor economies. In contrast, the rest had gone to high and upper-middle-income countries, making up less than half of the global population.
“We need an urgent reversal from the majority of vaccines going to high-income countries to the majority going to low-income countries,” Tedros said.
As the Delta variant is now responsible for many COVID-19 new outbreaks worldwide, proving capable of causing more breakthrough infections, vaccine companies have started to suggest a third dose added to the two original shots for optimum protection.
But the discussion for a push in booster dose had not been settled, such as the U.S., which demands further data for scientific certainty.
To infectious diseases medical adviser to Medecins Sans Frontieres’ access campaign, Elin Hoffmann Dahl, the highly transmissive Delta variant only proves that countries should further rush to get more unvaccinated people vaccinated.
“The fact that we are vaccinating healthy adults with a booster dose of COVID-19 vaccines is a short-sighted way of thinking,” Dahl told Reuters. “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.”
Likewise, in the U.S., the Delta variant has now made up 93.4% of the infections recorded in the country over the past two weeks, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated this week.
Vaccine breakthrough cases had also started to emerge more frequently in the U.S. alone. Most notably was the CDC’s report last week on the Massachusetts outbreak, which was deemed to have happened among vaccinated people.
At least, the CDC said the vaccines could still offer greater protection against severe illnesses and reduce the risk of death.