The World Health Organisation (WHO) yesterday slammed wealthy nations’ rush to have Covid-19 vaccine booster for their citizens while millions across the world are still waiting to have their first shots against Covid-19, NDTV reports.
Speaking from the United Nations (UN) agency’s Geneva headquarters, WHO’s emergency director Mike Ryan told reporters that provision of Covid-19 vaccine boosters in wealthy nations was immoral. WHO experts revealed that there was not enough scientific evidence that Covid-19 booster shots are needed to fight Covid-19.
“We’re planning to hand out extra life jackets to people who already have life jackets, while we’re leaving other people to drown without a single life jacket.
“The fundamental, ethical reality is we’re handing out second life jackets while leaving millions and millions of people without anything to protect them,” he said.
Earlier this month, WHO experts called for the suspension of Covid-19 booster shots to help quell the severe inequity in Covid-19 vaccine distribution between the developed and underdeveloped countries.
This follows after US authorities announced that vaccinated Americans would soon be able to have additional Covid-19 shots to fight the Delta variant.
US authorities warned that Covid-19 vaccination efficiency was decreasing drastically; therefore, they authorized Covid-19 booster shots from September 20.
Washington had already authorized additional doses for people with weakened immune systems, especially those with chronic diseases and conditions.
WHO experts insisted that it is reasonable to protect the most vulnerable people before rolling out boosters to wealthy people.
“What is clear is that it’s critical to get first shots into arms and protect the most vulnerable before boosters are rolled out,” WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told Wednesday’s press conference.
“The divide between the haves and have nots will only grow larger if manufacturers and leaders prioritize booster shots over supply to low- and middle-income countries,” he added.
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus also urged J&J Covid-19 vaccine producers to urgently prioritize the distribution of their vaccines to Africa.
“We urge J&J to urgently prioritize distribution of their vaccines to Africa before considering supplies to rich countries that already have sufficient access,” he said.
“Vaccine injustice is a shame on all humanity and if we don’t tackle it together, we will prolong the acute stage of this pandemic for years when it could be over in a matter of month,” he said.
On Tuesday, South African NGO Health Justice Initiative, Fatima Hassan told AFP that they are denouncing the shipment of J&J vaccines from South Africa to the wealthy nations.
“J&J are complicit in vaccine apartheid, diverting doses from those who really need them to the wealthiest countries on earth.
“It’s colonialist extraction, plain and simple,” said Hassan.
Covid-19 doses are assembled and packaged in South Africa by the pharmaceutical giant Aspen in Gqeberha, once known as Port Elizabeth.