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WHO chief urges wealthy nations to pause COVID-19 vaccine boosters

By
Zarrin Ahmed
World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus called for a moratorium Wednesday on vaccine booster shots in wealthy nations. File Photo by World Health Organization/Twitter
World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus called for a moratorium Wednesday on vaccine booster shots in wealthy nations. File Photo by World Health Organization/Twitter


Aug. 4 (UPI) -- The head of the World Health Organization on Wednesday called on wealthier countries to stop allowing people who are fully vaccinated to receive booster COVID-19 shots and instead send those doses to poorer nations.

During a news conference in Geneva, WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus urged a booster moratorium of about two months.

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In making the appeal, Ghebreyesus said the WHO's goal is to have at least 10% of each country's population vaccinated by the end of September.

He said wealthier countries, such as the United States and Britain, have administered nearly 100 doses of vaccine per 100 people. In developing nations, that figure is less than two doses per 100 people. The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines both require each person to receive two doses to be fully vaccinated.

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"More than 4 billion vaccine doses have been administered globally," he said. "More than 80% go to high- and upper-income countries, even though they account for less than half of the world's population."

Ghebreyesus said the United Nations health organization is not on track to meet its 10% goal. The WHO also aims to vaccinate 40% of the global population by December.

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The global case total also surpassed 200 million on Wednesday, according to data gathered by Johns Hopkins University, with a total of 4.25 million deaths also reported since the start of the pandemic.

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The milestone was reached amid surges brought on by the spread of the more contagious Delta variant, including in the United States where the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported a seven-day moving case average of 89,463 on Tuesday as the nation struggled to reach 70% of adults with at least one vaccine shot.

The WHO chief said the wealthiest nations, who comprise the Group of 20, have a vital role to play as they are the countries that produce, supply and donate the largest supplies of vaccines.

"It's no understatement to say that the course of the pandemic depends on the leadership of the G20 countries," he said.

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U.S. President Joe Biden said Tuesday the United States has sent more than 100 million vaccine doses to be distributed in poorer countries -- largely through COVAX, a program jointly operated by the WHO and other alliances.

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