Countries should not be ordering booster shots for their vaccinated populations while other countries have yet to receive COVID-19 vaccines, the World Health Organization said on Monday.
WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said deaths were again rising from the COVID-19 pandemic, the Delta variant was becoming dominant, and many countries had yet to receive enough vaccine doses to protect their health workers.
“The global gap in COVID-19 vaccine supply is hugely uneven and inequitable. Some countries and regions are actually ordering millions of booster doses, before other countries have had supplies to vaccinate their health workers and most vulnerable,” said Tedros.
He singled out vaccine makers Pfizer and Moderna as companies that were aiming to provide booster shots in countries where there were already high levels of vaccination.
Tedros said they should instead direct their doses to COVAX, the vaccine-sharing programme mainly for middle-income and poorer countries.
“The priority now must be to vaccinate those who have received no doses and protection,” the WHO chief said.
“I ask you, who would put firefighters on the frontline without protection? Who are most the vulnerable to the flames of the COVID-19 pandemic? The health workers on the frontlines, older persons and the vulnerable.”