WHO warns against vaccine hoarding as countries suffer from low inoculation

i24NEWS - Reuters

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Health worker prepares a dose of Moderna Covid-19 booster vaccine at the Toulouse's exhibition centre used as a vaccination centre in Toulouse, France, on December 9, 2021.
GEORGES GOBET / AFPHealth worker prepares a dose of Moderna Covid-19 booster vaccine at the Toulouse's exhibition centre used as a vaccination centre in Toulouse, France, on December 9, 2021.

Western nations are expanding their booster program, worrying about the fast-spreading omicron variant

The World Health Organization on Thursday warned wealthy countries against hoarding Covid vaccines for booster shots which could threaten supplies to poorer countries, where vaccination rates are low. 

Western nations are rolling out boosters, aiming to inoculate the elderly and those with underlying health issues, but worries about the fast-spreading omicron variant have prompted some to expand their programs. 

However, it is still unknown how effective current vaccines are against the new variant. Vaccines proved successful in slowing the spread of Covid and reducing the severity of the illness, but low rates of inoculation pose the risk of more dangerous and more vaccine-resistant variants emerging.

"As we head into whatever the omicron situation is going to be, there is risk that the global supply is again going to revert to high-income countries hoarding vaccine," the WHO's vaccine director, Kate O'Brien, told a briefing, according to Reuters.

WHO emergencies director, Mike Ryan, said omicron seems to be "fitter and faster" but is not invincible. 

"We don't fully understand the implications clinically or the implications for our vaccines... What we do in the coming days and weeks, both in terms of virus suppression, vaccination and equity will make a huge difference to the evolution of this pandemic in 2022," he said.

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