WHO says vaccine booster programs will PROLONG the Covid crisis
‘No country can boost its way out of the pandemic.’
December 24, 2021: On Wednesday, World Health Organization officials criticized blanket Covid-19 vaccine booster programs as developing countries struggle to obtain the starting doses, which warns that the unequal access to immunizations could lead to more mutated variants that drag out the crisis.
“Blanket booster programs are to prolong the pandemic, instead of ending it, that diverts supply to countries that have high levels of vaccination coverage, which gives the virus the opportunity to spread and mutate,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a news briefing.
The comments from the WHO comes as health officials in the U.S. promote vaccine booster doses for all residents over the age of 16 amid a surge in Covid cases driven by the omicron strain. On Tuesday, Israel announced it would offer a fourth dose of Covid-19 vaccines to people over 60.
“We want people to be able to gather” over the holidays, CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said in an interview Wednesday on CNN. “And safe gathering includes being vaccinated, ideally being boosted and making sure that all the people who you gather with are vaccinated and boosted.”
Currently, the vast majority of Covid hospitalizations and deaths are from unvaccinated people, not vaccinated people without booster doses, according to Tedros. “No country can boost its way out of the pandemic,” he said.
Vaccinations are not linear and no one knows what will happen with a fourth and fifth “booster” dose.
Global health experts say the emergence of Omicron is tied to vaccine inequality. Scientists have noted that Omicron has emerged from an HIV patient in South Africa, where just 26% of the population is fully vaccinated. The virus mutates well in people with compromised immune systems where it can live for a long time and figure out how to survive inside its human host.
The WHO has estimated half of its member states will have vaccinated at least 40% of their populations by the year-end “because of distortions in global supply,” Tedros said.
Vaccine inequity is “the most horrific injustice of 2021,” Dr. Michael Ryan, executive director of the WHO’s health emergencies program, said at the briefing.