WHO Chief: It's 'seriously disappointing' that rich countries are ordering booster shots while other nations need vaccines

  • Countries with mostly-vaccinated populations should not be ordering booster shots while the world faces a short supply of vaccines, said WHO’s Director-General.
  • He added that manufacturing facilities have the means to produce enough shots for the entire world.
  • At least 11 countries in the world have vaccinated less than 1% of their population, while some wealthier nations have stockpiled millions of shots.
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In a Monday briefing, Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus of the World Health Organization admonished wealthier countries for ordering third doses of COVID-19 vaccines while other nations need the shots more.

He said that the world is seeing two extremes – high-income nations that are buying booster shots for their already-vaccinated populations and those that are struggling to kick-start their inoculation programs.

“It’s really not only disappointing, it’s seriously disappointing. It doesn’t even make any sense,” he said, attributing the imbalance to “greed.”

“High-income countries who are vaccinating their population significantly are starting to see the COVID-19 pandemic as if it’s not their problem. That is dangerous,” he also said.

Countries with more vaccines than they need include the US, which has said that it is preparing to give out millions of unused shots; the UK, which ordered 400 million vaccine doses for its 66.5 million population; and Israel, which almost threw out one million unused Pfizer shots before South Korea bought most of them.

At least 11 countries have vaccinated less than 1% of their population, including Chad, Burkina Faso, and Papua New Guinea.

“When we say share it’s not like giving it for free… A majority of countries, a big proportion actually, can pay, but they don’t have the vaccines,” Ghebreyesus continued.

He pinned the responsibility of global pandemic leadership on the G20 nations, saying that these countries own the most vaccine manufacturing capabilities and should work together to solve the COVID-19 crisis.

Ghebreyesus encouraged richer countries and vaccine manufacturers to follow Astra Zeneca’s model of establishing a network of vaccine production facilities around the world. Astra Zeneca is using production sites across Europe, Australia, Asia, and Central and South America.

“If it is a vaccine volume issue, production issue, we believe that the world has the means to increase production quickly,” he said.

Earlier this year, Ghebreyesus called the same situation “vaccine apartheid,” and urged manufacturers to supply more shots to the vaccine-sharing COVAX alliance.



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