The World Health Organization (WHO) Wednesday called for a moratorium on COVID-19 booster shots until the end of next month to address a shortfall in vaccines for poorer countries.
“I understand the concern of all governments to protect their people from the Delta variant, but 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,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a news conference on Wednesday.
As a result, he said, the organization wants a “moratorium on boosters” until the end of September at the very least to make sure that 10 percent of every country’s population has received a dose. More than 80 percent of the world’s vaccine supplies have gone to more wealthy countries for less than half the world’s population.
Previously, WHO officials have warned that richer countries’ desire to only produce vaccines for their own populations could be counterproductive because COVID-19, the illness caused by the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, would still easily spread in poorer countries and then mutate into variants that could breach vaccine protection.
Some WHO officials, separately, have said there isn’t enough evidence about the long-term effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines, noting they’ve only been used for a few months.
The call from the UN health agency comes as the UK and Germany both announced plans to provide the booster shots as soon as next month. Starting last week, Israel—one of the most vaccinated countries in the world—is also offering a third shot of the Pfizer CCP virus vaccine for citizens aged 60 and older.
In Germany, the booster vaccinations will be done using mRNA-vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, regardless of what was used before, according to Federal Health Minister Jens Spahn in a comment on Tuesday.
“Therefore, children and teenagers … can decide to get vaccinated after a medical consultation and thus protect themselves and others,” Spahn said.
Pfizer announced in July that it and its vaccine partner, BioNTech, would seek clearance from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to distribute a booster shot. In response, FDA and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) officials dismissed Pfizer’s calls and said Americans don’t need the booster shot.
“Americans who have been fully vaccinated do not need a booster shot at this time,” said the CDC and FDA in a joint statement.
Pfizer claimed that a third dose of its mRNA vaccine is needed after data provided by the Israeli Ministry of Health suggested that it was effective at preventing infection and symptomatic COVID-19.
On Tuesday, President Joe Biden said the federal government has shipped over 110 million vaccine doses to 65 countries and will share its supply with the rest of the world after logistical issues are addressed.
In other countries, Thai and Indonesian authorities recently stated that they’d give health workers booster shots made in Europe or the United States after some health workers contracted the CCP virus after getting two doses of the Chinese-made Sinovac vaccine. The United Arab Emirates and Bahrain authorized Pfizer booster shots for individuals who received another Chinese-made vaccine, known as Sinopharm.