The World Health Organization (WHO) again took aim at wealthier countries’ COVID-19 booster programs and accused them of prolonging the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Blanket booster programs are likely to prolong the pandemic, rather than ending it, by diverting supply to countries that already have high levels of vaccination coverage, giving the virus more opportunity to spread and mutate,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a news briefing this week.
When the United States and some European nations announced their plans to distribute booster doses earlier this year, Tedros and other WHO authorities criticized the move. They said that those doses should instead be doled out to poorer nations.
Dr. Mike Ryan, WHO’s emergency director, earlier this month questioned the logic of several countries trying to produce more booster doses to vaccinate everyone aged 18 and older.
“Right now, there is no evidence that I’m aware of that would suggest that boosting the entire population is going to necessarily provide any greater protection for otherwise healthy individuals against hospitalization and death,” Ryan said.
“The real risk of severe disease, hospitalization, and death lies, in particularly, in at-risk and vulnerable individuals,” he added, “who do require protection against all variants of COVID-19,” the illness caused by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) virus. Agencies around the world generally consider older individuals, those with compromised immune systems, and people who work in high-risk settings to be vulnerable.
Last month, after WHO Omicron variant as one “of concern,” it courted controversy for skipping over naming it Xi or Nu. Some questioned whether the U.N. health body decided against naming it “Xi” out of fear of potentially offending the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) or its leader Xi Jinping.
Health officials in the United States have continued to promote COVID-19 booster shots for all residents aged 16 and older amid a surge of Omicron strain cases across the United States, although very few deaths have been reported so far worldwide. On Tuesday, Israel announced it would offer a fourth Pfizer vaccine dose to individuals older than age 60.
Months ago, Israel officially attached receiving the booster, or third dose, as a condition to using its country’s “green pass” COVID-19 vaccine passport to enter certain businesses. In the United States, a growing number of businesses and institutions have mandated boosters to enter buildings or as a condition for employment.
Tedros also told reporters that most people in hospitals with COVID-19 around the world are not vaccinated. He didn’t provide evidence to back up the claim.
“No country can boost its way out of the pandemic,” he said.