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WHO asks rich countries again for a “moratorium” on the third dose

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Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director General of the World Health Organization (WHO)

The World Health Organization (WHO) asked, this Wednesday, countries with high rates of vaccination against covid-19 not to proceed with a third dose until the end of the year, to reduce global inequality in the distribution of vaccines.

“A month ago I called for a global moratorium on booster shots at least until the end of September to allow vaccinates the world’s most at risk people who have not yet received their first dose. today i call for an extension of the moratorium at least until the end of the year to allow each country to vaccinate at least 40% of its population”, said the director general of the World Health Organization.

In a press conference from the organization’s headquarters in Geneva, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus admitted that the third dose is needed for groups at higher risk, such as immunocompromised patients or those who are not producing antibodies, but stressed that there is no scientific proof of its benefit in healthy and vaccinated people.

“For now we don’t want to see wasted vaccines booster for fully vaccinated healthy people,” warned the WHO official, adding that high- and middle-income countries absorbed more than 80% of the total of approximately 5.5 billion doses administered worldwide.

According to Ghebreyesus, the WHO’s global goal is for each country to vaccinate at least 10% of its population by the end of this month, 40% by the end of the year and that 70% of the world population will be immunized by the middle of next year.

“None of the low-income countries have achieved these goals” of vaccinating 10% or 40% of their population, he lamented.

According to the director-general of WHO, this low rate of vaccination is due, in part, to the fact that vaccine manufacturers “are giving priority or are legally obliged to comply, by bilateral agreements, with rich countries” , what makes the poorest countries be “deprived of the tools to protect their populations”.

“There has been a lot of talk about the equity of vaccines, but very little action. Rich countries have promised to donate more than a billion doses, but less than 15% of these doses have materialized. We don’t want any more promises. We just want the vaccines”, he stressed.

These declarations take place on the same day that the Financial Times, Pfizer Vice President Philip Dormitzer said he thought the booster dose of the vaccine might indeed be inevitable.

In Portugal, remember, the Directorate-General for Health (DGS) recommended the additional dose of the vaccine only for immunosuppressed people with more than 16 years, foreseeing the vaccination of less than 100,000 users in health centers.

This Wednesday, the international funding mechanism Covax said it plans to vaccinate against covid-19 this year. 20% of the world population in poor countries, below the initial goal.

In a joint statement, the mechanism’s founders, such as the WHO itself and the Vaccine Alliance (Gavi), underlined that inequality of access remains “unacceptable”.

Covax has so far managed to distribute only 243 million doses in 139 poor countries, according to Ann Ottosen, a member of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) supply division.

“Most countries in the world have already received doses of Covax. This is just the beginning”, said Seth Berkley, CEO of Gavi. “We hope to have another 1.1 billion doses to deliver by the end of the year,” he added.

According to the latest forecasts published today, Covax expects to have a total of 1.425 billion doses available by 2021, goal considerably below of the two billion doses originally set by the system. Covax now expects to reach that first goal in the first quarter of 2022.

Covid-19 has caused at least 4,583,765 deaths worldwide, among more than 221.81 million infections by the new coronavirus registered since the start of the pandemic, according to the latest report by the Agence France-Presse.

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