The World Health Organization (WHO) blasted wealthy nations on Tuesday, saying they are prolonging the pandemic by hoarding treatments and vaccines for the coronavirus.
“This is not just unfair, it’s not just immoral, it’s prolonging the pandemic,” Maria Van Kerkhove, the group’s technical lead for the coronavirus, said during a Q&A. “And it is resulting in people dying.”
“If we had used the vaccine doses that were available differently, we be in a very different situation right now globally,” she added.
The WHO has for months been calling on wealthy nations to give poorer countries more vaccine doses and to pause booster shots until poorer countries are able to vaccinate more individuals.
Countries in Africa and other parts of the world have struggled to get even 5 percent of their populations vaccinated while wealthier countries have begun administering booster shots for those who have already been fully vaccinated.
WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in August there needed to be a pause on vaccine boosters for at least two months to help give more doses to poorer countries.
The White House announced on Tuesday that 75 percent of U.S. adults have received at least one dose of the vaccine. The U.S. is looking to start administering booster shots this autumn.
The Biden administration has been donating millions of vaccine doses globally, but the WHO says more needs to be done to close the gap.