The World Health Organization (WHO) has called to put plans to distribute booster shots on hold until late September to enable more equitable vaccine access across the world.
At present, only 14% of the world’s population is fully vaccinated, and, in some countries, only a sliver of people have obtained vaccines. However, vaccination rates are flagging in much of the developing world. In Bangladesh, for instance, only 2.7% of people are fully vaccinated, according to Our World in Data. In Niger, 0.7% of the public has reached that milestone.
In a media briefing, the world is understandably concerned about the Delta variant, said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the WHO. “But 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,” he explained.
WHO wants all countries to vaccinate at least 10% of their populations by the end of September.
Developing countries have only administered 1.5 doses per 100 people, according to WHO.
“We need an urgent reversal, from the majority of vaccines going to high-income countries, to the majority going to low-income countries,” Ghebreyesus said.
Concerning booster shots, a consensus appears to be emerging that they are recommended for immunocompromised people. The use of boosters in the broader public, however, remains debatable.
Former FDA commissioner and Pfizer board member Dr. Scott Gottlieb recently predicted the U.S. would begin administering boosters to seniors and the immunocompromised in September.
Other countries such as France, the U.K. and Israel have also begun planning to use boosters for at-risk populations.