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WHO calls for global pause on COVID-19 vaccine boosters

Click to play video: 'WHO calls for global pause on COVID-19 vaccine boosters' WHO calls for global pause on COVID-19 vaccine boosters
WATCH: WHO calls for global pause on COVID-19 vaccine boosters – Aug 4, 2021

The World Health Organization is calling for a moratorium on COVID-19 vaccine boosters until at least the end of September, its head Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Wednesday.

The move was to enable that at least 10 per cent of the population of every country was vaccinated, WHO Director-General Tedros said.

Click to play video: 'WHO calls for moratorium on COVID-19 booster shot as low income counties lag behind in first doses' WHO calls for moratorium on COVID-19 booster shot as low income counties lag behind in first doses
WHO calls for moratorium on COVID-19 booster shot as low income counties lag behind in first doses – Aug 4, 2021

The call to stop COVID-19 vaccine boosters is the strongest yet from the UN agency as the gap between inoculation rates in wealthy and poor countries widens.

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“I understand the concern of all governments to protect their people from the Delta variant. But we cannot accept countries that have already used most of the global supply of vaccines using even more of it,” Tedros added.

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High-income countries administered around 50 doses for every 100 people in May, and that number has since doubled, according to WHO. Low-income countries have only been able to administer 1.5 doses for every 100 people, due to lack of supply.

“We need an urgent reversal from the majority of vaccines going to high-income countries to the majority going to low-income countries,” Tedros said.

To counter the spread of the Delta variant, some countries have begun to use or started weighing on the need for booster doses even as scientists debate over whether or not extra shots are needed.

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“The fact that we are vaccinating healthy adults with a booster dose of COVID-19 vaccines is a short-sighted way of thinking,” said Elin Hoffmann Dahl, infectious diseases medical adviser to Medecins Sans Frontieres’ access campaign.

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Read more: Canada doesn’t need vaccine boosters yet, but planning for possibility: Tam

“With the emergence of new variants, if we continue to leave the majority of the world unvaccinated, we will most definitely need adjusted vaccines in the future,” Dahl told Reuters.

Last week, Israeli President Isaac Herzog received a third shot of coronavirus vaccine, kicking off a campaign to give booster doses to people aged over 60 in the country.

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The United States in July signed a deal with Pfizer Inc and German partner BioNTech to buy 200 million additional doses of their COVID-19 vaccine to help with pediatric vaccination as well as possible booster shots.

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U.S. health regulators were still assessing the need for a booster dose. Canada has said there’s “not enough data” to support boosters quite yet, but that health officials are planning for the possibility and watching the science “very carefully.”
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— with files from Global News

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