Why Is The World Health Organization Calling For A COVID Vaccine Booster Moratorium?

The World Health Organization’s director general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, has called for a COVID booster shot embargo for at least the next two months.

“We should not allow countries that have already used up the majority of the global vaccine supply to utilize even more of it while the world’s most vulnerable people remain unprotected,” he says.

Individuals who have been fully immunized against COVID should wait to obtain a third shot until more people throughout the world have had their first dose of the vaccine, according to the WHO.

In some circles, this is a divisive stance. Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, criticized the request for a booster moratorium, calling it a “false choice” by WHO.

According to Tedros, there is a significant global inequality in vaccine availability. More than 80% of COVID vaccines have been given out in high-and upper-middle-income countries. For example, the United Kingdom has vaccinated approximately 65 percent of its people, but only 7% of Filipinos have been immunized. Teenagers at little risk of developing COVID are being vaccinated in the United States, while Nigerian front-line health-care workers are still waiting for their vaccinations.

And, in a worrying trend for WHO, Israel has recently begun distributing Pfizer supplemental dosages to adults over 60. In the Palestinian areas, on the other hand, just about 12% of residents have received any vaccination.

In the foreseeable future, WHO does not rule out all boosters. Boosters may be required for a small percentage of people with specific medical conditions, according to the WHO. However, according to the WHO, research has yet to show that booster doses provide meaningful protection to the general public. Tedros is advocating a two-month suspension of booster shots in order to meet his goal of vaccinating 10% of the population in each country by September 30.

Beyond that time frame, WHO’s global immunization objective is 40% by the end of December and 70% by the middle of 2022. With less than 2% of Africans properly vaccinated, meeting the first goal by October 1 is practically impossible.

If the Food and Drug Administration approves booster shots, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said the US will give them to Americans. “We feel we can do both,” she says, adding that the US has an adequate supply to administer boosters at home and donate doses abroad. That’s a decision we don’t have to make. “

However, Jarbas Barbosa, assistant director of the Pan American Health Organization, believes that delivering boosters in certain nations before first doses in others makes little sense from a public health standpoint. COVID boosters have yet to be approved by major regulatory authorities like the FDA or the WHO. Giving them now is “morally and ethically problematic,” according to Barbosa.

Continued gaps in global health are “morally and ethically complex,” according to Ruth Karron, a professor of international health at Johns Hopkins University.

She believes that focusing on boosters is less important than stemming the pandemic by vaccinating as many people as possible as early as possible.

“Unvaccinated populations are the most likely to develop new variations,” she says. “So the more people who aren’t vaccinated around the world, the more we’re all at risk.”

The Delta strain has demonstrated how swiftly progress against the pandemic may ebb and flow, and how cases can spike even in nations with high vaccination rates.

“Vaccination should be a right for everyone in the world in the context of this pandemic,” Karron adds. She knows that not everyone shares her humanitarian approach to this issue, but she believes that the goal should remain the same even for those who are primarily concerned with stopping the pandemic in the United States.

“It’s in the best interests of the American people to have as much worldwide immunity as possible,” she says, “because that’s how we keep new variations from developing.”

Reference:https://www.npr.org/sections/goatsandsoda/2021/08/04/1019780576/why-who-is-calling-for-a-moratorium-on-covid-vaccine-boosters

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