Story at a glance
- WHO called for the moratorium through September to allow 10 percent of the population of every country to be vaccinated.
- “We believe we can do both, and we don’t need to make that choice,” Psaki said.
- A growing number of countries are turning to booster shots as the highly contagious delta variant spreads around the globe.
The White House on Wednesday pushed back against the World Health Organization’s (WHO) call for wealthier nations to halt booster shots until more of the world becomes vaccinated against COVID-19.
The United Nations health agency called for a moratorium on boosters until at least the end of September to allow 10 percent of the population of every country to be vaccinated.
WHO officials said the world is about halfway through hitting its goal of vaccinating 10 percent of the population of every country, but was not on track to hit the goal by September.
“So far, more than 4 billion vaccine doses have been administered globally. More than 80 percent have gone to high- and upper-middle income countries, even though they account for less than half of the world’s population,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said during a news briefing in Geneva.
“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 said.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said that was a “false choice” as the U.S. could administer booster shots while continuing to donate to the global supply.
“We announced just yesterday that we hit an important milestone of over 110 million vaccines donated to the world. That is more than any other country has shared combined,” Psaki said.
The U.S. is also set to begin shipping half a billion Pfizer doses to 100 low-income countries by the end of this month.
“We will have enough supply to ensure that if the FDA decides that boosters are recommended for a portion of the population, to provide those as well. We believe we can do both and we don’t need to make that choice,” Psaki said.
A growing number of countries are turning to booster shots as the highly contagious delta variant spreads around the globe. Israel recently started administering booster shots to the elderly, while Germany announced plans to offer the shot to at-risk individuals next month.
U.S. health officials have said there is not yet enough data to support booster shots. Former Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, however, told CNBC Wednesday he believes boosters could start being administered in the U.S. to the elderly and those with compromised immune systems as early as next month.
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