The disparity between the global distribution of Covid-19 boosters and first shots to people in developing nations is a “scandal,” World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said at a briefing Friday.
Inequitable vaccine distribution has hit Africa particularly hard, where just 6% of the continent’s population is fully vaccinated against Covid, the WHO’s Regional Office for Africa reported as of Oct. 28. WHO officials have for weeks criticized the distribution of boosters to healthy adults, calling on high-income countries to reallocate their surplus doses to immunize health-care personnel, the elderly and other high-risk adults across poorer nations.
“Every day, there are six times more boosters administered globally than primary doses in low-income countries,” Tedros said. “This is a scandal that must stop now.”
The WHO chief criticised the distribution of boosters to healthy adults saying that “it makes no sense to give boosters to healthy adults, or to vaccinate children, when health workers, older people and other high-risk groups around the world are still waiting for their first dose.” However, he said that there is an exception — immunocompromised individuals.
Swaminathan added that the WHO would likely miss that goal unless COVAX, the WHO’s initiative for providing Covid shots for at least 20 per cent of countries’ populations, received approximately 500 million more doses to distribute.