Well-Being Longevity

WHO urges countries to halt plans for COVID-19 booster shots through September

Story at a glance

  • WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus warned against booster shots as some countries struggle to access first doses of the vaccine.
  • U.S. public health officials still recommend a third dose.

As booster vaccinations gain traction with waning immunity in the face of delta variant infections, World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus doubled down on the agency’s opposition toward handing out third shots when a substantial portion of the world’s population hasn’t been given a first dose. 

“That’s why I have called for a moratorium on boosters, at least until the end of this month to allow those countries that are furthest behind to catch up,” he said at a press conference, per CNBC.

In the U.S., 52.6 percent of the population, or more than 174 million Americans, have been vaccinated.  

Tedros noted that some countries, like lower-income nations in Africa, have less than 2 percent of their populations fully vaccinated.

This contradicts U.S. public health experts’ stances, with individuals like Anthony Fauci supporting the booster vaccine recommendations.

Speaking on ABC, he said that the estimated timeline for available booster vaccines to be within eight months after the initial two-shot regime. 

This hinges on approval from the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, an oversight panel informing regulatory decisions. 

Other WHO officials have previously said that while booster vaccinations in wealthier countries wouldn’t necessarily take away from initial rounds in other nations, vaccine sharing programs, including the WHO’s COVAX initiative, are critical to overcoming the pandemic.

“A third dose of vaccine is not a luxury booster taken away from someone who is still waiting for a first jab. But it’s basically a way to keep the people safe – the most vulnerable,” Hans Kluge, the WHO European regional director said during a press briefing. “But at the same time, we need to share. We need to do it all.”

Pharmaceutical companies with COVID-19 vaccines already developed, such as Pfizer, are aiming to apply for regulatory approval for booster shots pending clinical data on immunity and safety.