Omicron has now been detected in all US states
An unbalanced distribution of the Covid-19 vaccine around the world means that booster programs in high-income countries could prolong the pandemic by leaving the poorest countries unvaccinated, the director general of the World Organization said on Wednesday. health, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
“It is frankly difficult to understand how, one year after the administration of the first vaccines, three out of four health workers in Africa are still not vaccinated,” Tedros said during a press briefing.
“While some countries are currently rolling out general booster programs, only half of WHO Member States have been able to meet the goal of immunizing 40% of their population by the end of the year, due to distortions in global supply. Enough vaccines have been administered around the world this year so that the 40% target would have been reached in all countries by September if these vaccines had been distributed fairly, ”he continued.
“About 20% of all vaccine doses given each day are currently given as boosters or extra doses. General recall programs are likely to prolong the pandemic rather than end it by diverting supplies to countries that already have high levels of immunization coverage, giving the virus a greater chance of spreading and mutating ”, Tedros said.
Tedros previously called for a moratorium on booster doses around the world, and on Wednesday referred to a new WHO statement examining the use of booster doses around the world.
“Today, the WHO Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunization, or SAGE, is releasing an interim statement on booster doses. SAGE concluded that the focus of immunization must remain on reducing death and serious illness and expressed concern that widespread booster programs would exacerbate inequalities in immunization, ”said Tedros.
In the statement, the organization cited a preprint study from mid-November, showing that when studied together, the vaccines Pfizer / BioNTech, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca saw the vaccine’s effectiveness against severe Covid-19 decrease by around 8% over six months. .
In people over 50, the study showed a 10% decrease in effectiveness against severe disease after six months. The WHO called this a “minimal to modest” reduction in effectiveness, but said the Omicron variant could change the situation.
“It’s important to remember that the vast majority of hospitalizations and deaths are in unvaccinated people, not in non-doped people. And we have to be very clear that the vaccines we have are still effective against the Delta and Omicron variants, ”Tedros said.
The statement said that in the interests of equity, emphasis should be placed within countries on “improving the coverage of the primary immunization series in high-risk populations as a use priority of vaccine doses “.
The WHO and SAGE statement also noted that 126 member countries recommended some form of booster or additional vaccination, mostly from high and middle income countries. “In several of these countries which administer booster doses, the coverage rates for the complete primary series are less than 30%,” the statement said.