WHO Chief Calls for Global Pause of Booster Shots

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus calls for moratorium so people in developing world can get a first shot
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Aug 4, 2021 9:55 AM CDT
WHO Chief: Can We Nix Booster Shots Til All Get a First?
World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus arrives at the opening ceremony at Olympic Stadium at the 2020 Summer Olympics on July 23, 2021, in Tokyo.   (Leon Neal/Pool Photo via AP)

The head of the World Health Organization is calling for a moratorium on administering booster shots of COVID-19 vaccines as a way to help ensure that doses are available in countries where few people have received their first shots. WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus made the appeal mostly to wealthier countries that have far outpaced the developing world in numbers of vaccinations. WHO officials say the science is unproven about whether giving booster shots to people who've already received two vaccine doses is effective in preventing the spread of the coronavirus, per the AP. The UN health agency has repeatedly called for rich countries to do more to help improve access to vaccines in the developing world. Tedros pointed to a WHO target set earlier this year to ensure that 10% of the populations in countries receive vaccines against the coronavirus.

"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," he said Wednesday. WHO has been focusing on getting vaccines to older adults, health care workers, and other target populations in many nations before booster shot campaigns are carried out. Israel, France, Germany, and many Middle Eastern countries have already started administering booster shots, and other nations, including the US and Britain, are considering plans to do so due to the highly transmissible delta variant. "We need everyone's cooperation, especially the handful of countries and companies that control the global supply of vaccines," Tedros said. "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."

(More coronavirus vaccine stories.)

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