The Director General of the World Health Organization (WHO), Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, will attend a press conference in Geneva, Switzerland on July 3, 2020.
Fabrice Coffrini | Reuters
World Health Organization officials reiterated their protests against Covid-19 booster syringes to the general public on Tuesday, despite the US poised to approve their distribution across much of America this week.
WHO strongly opposes the widespread introduction of booster vaccinations and calls for wealthier nations to give extra doses to countries with minimal vaccination rates. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and an advisory body to the Food and Drug Administration, the United States has already recommended nearly 2 million booster vaccinations nationwide on Friday for everyone aged 65 and over.
“The WHO argues that booster doses are not currently the best choice in the general population who have had widespread access to vaccines and who have already been vaccinated,” said Dr. Mike Ryan, WHO Director of Emergency Health Programs, during a live question and answer session aired Tuesday on the organization’s social media channels.
Ryan reiterated WHO support for third doses given to elderly, medically vulnerable people and anyone in need of immune boosting after a full Covid vaccine regimen. He reiterated the organization’s calls for a moratorium on booster doses by the end of the year to give the nation enough time to vaccinate at least 40% of its population against Covid.
WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Sept. 14 that most countries with vaccination coverage below 2% are in Africa, where less than 3.5% of the continent’s eligible population are fully vaccinated against Covid. Africa is likely to miss the WHO target of 10% vaccination rate by the end of the year, Tedros added.
But in the US, where nearly 55% of the population is fully vaccinated, the CDC expects the FDA to issue formal guidance on Pfizer’s boosters before the CDC holds its two-day vaccination meeting on Wednesday and Thursday.
An FDA advisory committee on Friday rejected a proposal to recommend boosters to all Americans over 16, citing concerns about insufficient data and the potential for myocarditis. Instead, the group narrowed down this plan and advocated the third dose for those 65 and over, as well as for those over and other medically at risk.
World leaders continued to discuss global vaccination efforts at a meeting on Tuesday of the 76th General Assembly of the United Nations. President Joe Biden will hold a Covid summit on Wednesday to encourage international dignitaries to improve vaccine distribution around the world and inform the General Assembly that the US has donated over 160 million doses of Covid vaccine to the cause.
“It’s a real moment of truth,” said Ryan. “We as a world are getting another chance, opportunities that we haven’t used before, to focus on equality in the vaccine.”