The World Health Organization wants to put a halt to booster shots in order to vaccinate at least 10 per cent of the world by September.

The US Disagrees With WHO'S Call To Halt Covid-19 Booster Vaccines

by Bhaswati Guha Majumder - Thursday, August 5, 2021 03:14 PM IST
The US Disagrees With WHO'S Call To Halt Covid-19 Booster Vaccines  WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus
  • A booster vaccine plan has yet to be announced by Washington. Amidst that, the White House has dismissed the WHO's request, claiming that it could do both—supply vaccines to Americans while also supporting worldwide vaccination efforts.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has urged for a moratorium on Covid-19 vaccine booster jabs to allow developing nations to catch up on vaccination rates. The United Nations health agency’s director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that the halt on the third dose should last until at least the end of September 2021.

This would contribute to the WHO's objective of vaccinating at least 10 per cent of the population in each nation by that date, safeguarding healthcare personnel and vulnerable individuals. But the United States has challenged demands by the WHO.

WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on 4 August: “We cannot accept countries that have already used most of the global supply of vaccines using even more of it, while the world’s most vulnerable people remain unprotected.”

A booster vaccine plan has yet to be announced by Washington. The White House, on the other hand, appeared to dismiss the WHO's request, claiming that it could supply vaccines to Americans while also supporting worldwide vaccination efforts.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters that the United States “feel that it is a false choice and we can do both” while stressing the fact that America has donated more vaccine doses than any other country. Additionally, she said: “Also in this country [we] have enough supply to ensure that every American has access to a vaccine.”

It's the latest call from the Geneva-based health agency for developed nations to do more to help developing countries gain access to vaccines. Tedros stated that wealthy countries had given out approximately 100 doses of the Covid-19 vaccine per 100 individuals on average, whereas low-income countries had only given out about 1.5 doses per 100 people due to a lack of supplies.

In the aftermath of the development of the highly transmissible Delta variant, Israel, France, Germany, and many Middle Eastern countries have already begun administering boosters, and other nations, including the United States and the United Kingdom, are evaluating plans to do so. According to WHO vaccines chief Dr Katherine O'Brien, while a very small number of nations were administering booster doses, a greater number were considering it.

O’Brien also added that the evidence is constantly changing, and there is not enough evidence to say if something is necessary or not. The expert also added that the key message was that the focus should be on the most vulnerable people.

The WHO has long believed that no one is safe until everyone is safe because the longer and wider the coronavirus spreads, the more likely new varieties would arise, prolonging the pandemic's global crisis. The UN health agency reaffirmed its demand for global "solidarity" in the fight against the pandemic, appealing to affluent countries and corporations for assistance.

Tedros appealed to the influential Group of 20 large countries, saying, "We need everyone’s cooperation, especially the handful of countries and companies that control the global supply of vaccines. The G20 has a vital leadership role to play as the countries that are the biggest producers, the biggest consumers and the biggest donors of Covid-19 vaccines.”

In July, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the US urged people to take both the vaccine doses as the jabs are found to be effective against the highly transmissible Delta variant. In a joint statement, the federal agencies also clarified that “Americans who have been fully vaccinated do not need a booster shot at this time. FDA, CDC, and NIH are engaged in a science-based, rigorous process to consider whether or when a booster might be necessary.”

Additionally, the statement said: “This process takes into account laboratory data, clinical trial data, and cohort data – which can include data from specific pharmaceutical companies, but does not rely on those data exclusively. We continue to review any new data as it becomes available and will keep the public informed. We are prepared for booster doses if and when the science demonstrates that they are needed.”

This comes after American drugmakers Pfizer and Moderna officials confirmed that they have already started working on booster shots and claimed that people would need it pretty soon. Pfizer also said that it would shortly provide data on a third vaccination dose and submit it to the FDA, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) and other regulatory agencies.

Dr Peter Marks, director of the Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research at the FDA, said on 4 August that regarding Covid-19 vaccination booster doses, the federal advises against taking matters into your own hands. He added: "You can see all from looking at the news that there are people and the jurisdictions that are actually taking things into their own hands ... FDA does not recommend taking things into your own hands.”

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