Health and Science

WHO extends call for a moratorium on Covid booster doses until the end of the year

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Key Points
  • The WHO previously urged world leaders to hold off on booster doses until the end of September.
  • About 5.5 billion vaccine doses have been administered globally, but 80% have been given out in high- or upper-middle income countries, according to the WHO.
  • "We don't want any more promises, we just want the vaccines," Tedros said.
World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus attends a news conference organized by Geneva Association of United Nations Correspondents (ACANU) amid the COVID-19 outbreak, at the WHO headquarters in Geneva Switzerland July 3, 2020.
Fabrice Coffrini | Pool | Reuters

The World Health Organization has extended its call for a moratorium on Covid-19 booster doses until at least the end of the year.

The WHO previously urged world leaders to hold off on booster doses until the end of September.

"There has been little change in the global situation since then, so today I am calling for an extension of the moratorium until at least the end of the year to enable every country to vaccinate at least 40% of its population," WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a briefing Wednesday.

About 5.5 billion vaccine doses have been administered globally, but 80% have been given out in high- or upper-middle income countries, according to the WHO.

"I will not stay silent when the companies and countries that control the global supply of vaccines think the world's poor should be satisfied with leftovers," Tedros said.

Almost 90% of high-income countries have vaccinated at least 10% of their population, and 70% of high-income countries have vaccinated at least 40% of their population. "Not a single low-income country has reached either target," Tedros said. "That's not their fault."

"High-income countries have promised to donate more than 1 billion doses, but less than 15% of those doses have been materialized," Tedros said. "Manufacturers have promised to prioritize COVAX and low-income countries."

The director-general said that the WHO has been calling for vaccine equity since the beginning of the vaccine rollout, and that it was not supposed to happen after the richest countries have been taken care of.

"We don't want any more promises, we just want the vaccines," Tedros said. "We have the tools, it's clear what needs to happens, now is the time for true leadership, not empty promises."