The World Health Organization has urged countries with high vaccination rates to meet their COVID-19 dose-sharing commitments for countries at immediate risk.
More than 5.5 billion doses of vaccines have been administered worldwide. Some Western countries already offer third “booster jabs”.
“Vaccine inequity is a problem that can be resolved,” said WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, again calling on pharmaceutical companies to prioritize the known UN-backed initiative under the name COVAX, which is designed to share vaccines around the world.
“We call on manufacturers to prioritize COVAX and AVAT (African Vaccine Acquisition Trust). to facilitate the sharing of technology, know-how and intellectual property to support regional vaccine manufacturing. “
“I can sound like a broken record. I don’t care. I will continue to call for equity in vaccines until we get it,” he added, using a phrase he has already used for other problems.
Tedros last week called for a “moratorium” on the use of boosters in healthy populations until the end of the year.
Countries like Israel, France and Germany have already started distributing third doses to some people; the UK on Tuesday announced plans to offer reminders to anyone over 50 as well as young people who may be more vulnerable to COVID-19.
The drugmakers – including Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna – have shown no indication that they are eager to change their current tactics, which are to call on rich countries and their regulators to allow booster shots.
To date, less than 4% of Africans have been fully immunized and most of the 5.7 billion doses of vaccine administered worldwide have been given in just 10 wealthy countries.
COVAX has missed almost all of its targets and is now begging rich countries to share their doses of vaccines.
WHO and partners have said they hope to provide Africa with around 30% of the COVID-19 vaccines the continent needs by February, largely missing stated targets.
“WHO’s global goals are to support every country to immunize at least 40% of its population by the end of this year and 70% of the world’s population by the middle of next year. So far, only two African countries have reached the 40% target, the lowest of any region, ”said Tedros.
“As I said last week, it’s not because African countries don’t have the capacity or experience to deploy vaccines, it’s because they have been left behind by the rest of the world.”