WHO: No country can boost its way out of pandemic

AFP

3 min read
World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus arrives for a press conference at the WHO headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, on December 20, 2021.
FABRICE COFFRINI / AFPWorld Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus arrives for a press conference at the WHO headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, on December 20, 2021.

Less than 10 percent of people in low-income countries have at least one vaccine dose, according to UN figures

The World Health Organization warned Wednesday that the rush in wealthy countries to roll out additional Covid vaccine doses was deepening the inequity in access to jabs, prolonging the pandemic.

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus insisted that the priority must remain to get vaccines to vulnerable people everywhere rather than giving additional doses to the already vaccinated.

"No country can boost its way out of the pandemic," he told reporters.

Allowing Covid to spread unabated in some places dramatically increases the chance of new, more dangerous variants emerging, the United Nations health agency argues.

"Blanket booster programs are likely to prolong the pandemic, rather than ending it,” Ghebreyesus said.

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He continued to note that “by diverting supply to countries that already have high levels of vaccination coverage,” the virus can more easily spread and mutate.

Months ago, Tedros called in vain for a delay on booster doses to vaccinated, healthy people until at least 40 percent of people in all countries received the first jab.

He pointed out Wednesday that while enough vaccines were given to people globally this year to reach that target, distortions in global supply meant that only half the world's countries did so.

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According to UN figures, about 67 percent of people in high-income countries acquired at least one vaccine dose, compared to not even 10 percent in low-income countries.

"It's frankly difficult to understand how a year since the first vaccines were administered, three in four health workers in Africa remain unvaccinated," said Tedros.