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Monday, January 24, 2022

WHO calls for wealthy countries to postpone Covid-19 booster jab


Wealthy nations asked to donate to low income countries in order to vaccinate 10% of world population by September 2021.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has called on wealthy nations to postpone the administration of Covid-19 booster vaccines for at least two months.

WHO said that the halt would give the world an opportunity to vaccinate 10% of every country’s population by the end of September.

The move comes after Israel announced it would give booster doses to its elderly population. 

The Dominican Republic has also been administering booster shots to its people, while neighboring country Haiti has only recently received its first batch of Covid-19 vaccine doses.

“We need an urgent reversal from the majority of vaccines going to high-income countries, to the majority going to low income countries,” said WHO Director General, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

In high-income countries, just over one in two people, or 51.15%, have been vaccinated, according to WHO data. In low income countries, just one in 74, or 1.36%, have received the jab.

According to Ghebreyesus’s senior advisor, Dr Bruce Aylward, WHO plans to vaccinate 40% of the world by the end of 2021. 

“The big picture here is, as a policy, not to be moving forward with boosters until we get the whole world at a point where the older populations, people with comorbidities, people who are working at the front lines, are all protected to the degree possible with vaccines,” said Aylward at a press briefing. 

As the Delta variant, which was first detected in India, ravages through the world, mass vaccination is more important than ever.

Read: Qatar loosens Covid-19 restrictions as vaccination drive expands

The variant is highly infectious and has a higher chance of vaccine evasion. Unless the world’s population receives immunity, more strains will likely emerge, posing more of a risk to all countries, vaccinated or unvaccinated, according to experts. 

“The entire world is in the middle of this and, as we’ve seen with the emergence of variant after variant, we cannot get out of it unless the whole world gets out of it together, and with the huge disparity in vaccination coverage, we’re simply not going to be able to achieve that,” said Aylward.

Back in Qatar, where almost 63% of the population is fully vaccinated, the Delta variant has found its way to the country, according to a top health official.

“The Delta variant first appeared [in the world] last February, but it arrived in Qatar four months later,” confirmed Hamad General Hospital Medical Director Dr Yousef Al Maslamani in an interview with Qatar TV.

“The Delta variant exists all over the world including Qatar. Since a large number of people will enter Qatar who might be infected with Delta variants, we have adjourned to move to the fourth phase of lifting Covid-19 restrictions and extended phase 3,” Al Maslamani added.

However, the health official affirmed that the vaccines available in Doha are “effective and safe even against the Delta variant.”

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