As the people of rich nations achieve the rapid spread of the Omicron variant, the leader of the World Health Organization warned that universal access to additional doses in highly inoculated countries could worsen global vaccine inequality and prolong the pandemic.
This imbalance, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Wednesday, will give “more opportunities for the virus to spread and mutate.”
“It’s important to remember,” he said, “that the vast majority of hospitalizations and deaths occur in unvaccinated people, not in people without impulse.” He later added: “No country can push its way out of the pandemic.”
Since vaccines against Covid were developed about a year ago, rich countries have had more access to it despite global efforts to reduce this disparity. About 73 percent of gunshot wounds worldwide have been administered in high- and middle-income countries, according to a New York Times tracker. Only 0.9 percent of doses have been administered in low-income countries.
“It is frankly difficult to understand how one year after the first vaccines were given, three out of four health workers in Africa are still unvaccinated,” he said. Ghebreyesus.
On Wednesday, he did not criticize the names of specific countries, but said that “there is no doubt that the unequal distribution of these vaccines has caused many lives” and wondered “why some countries are implementing widespread reinforcement programs.” .
Governments in Europe and elsewhere are accelerating booster injections as scientific evidence accumulates that two doses of vaccine are insufficient to stop infection with the highly transmissible Omicron variant, although vaccines appear reduce the risk of hospitalization and serious illness. Some public health experts who had opposed an all-encompassing approach have changed their minds since the variant emerged.
This week, Israeli leaders said they would offer a fourth round of vaccines to people over 60 and medical workers. France has shortened the wait before people can receive a four-month, five-month booster vaccine. The UK will offer all eligible adults booster injections at the end of the year, one month ahead of schedule.
And in the United States, where health officials have recommended booster injections for all adults, the Omicron variant is motivating more than half of vaccinated adults to receive a booster shot, according to a recent Kaiser Family Foundation survey. .
Although health officials and epidemiologists are urging Americans to get vaccinated and promoted, however, the road has been slow. Just over half of Americans 65 and older, the population most vulnerable to a serious virus outbreak, have received a boost.
Public health experts are concerned that socioeconomic disparities in U.S. vaccination rates will worsen as booster vaccines develop. The difficulty of quitting work and the disconnection of health systems have contributed to a persistent gap in vaccination rates among more and less socioeconomically vulnerable counties.
In view of the celebrations of the festivities, Mr. Ghebreyesus warned that people who have received booster injections should not rely on them as a substitute for other safety measures such as wearing masks and avoiding crowded indoor gatherings.
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