WHO (World Health Organization) Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has called for a global moratorium on the application of booster doses against Covid-19, so that there are sufficient vaccination for the poorest countries.
According to Ghebreyesus, while rich countries have already applied more than 100 doses per 100 inhabitants, in the poorest countries this rate is only 1.5 / 100. “It is no exaggeration to say that the road to this pandemic depends on the decisions taken by the G20. [grupo das 20 maiores economias do mundo], the WHO director said on Wednesday (4).
In recent weeks, Israel, Uruguay, Hungary and Germany have announced a campaign to strengthen the vaccination of their populations.
Ghebreyesus has called for these campaigns to be suspended at least until the end of September, to ensure that at least 10% of the population is protected in all countries.
The debate on whether to apply a third dose of vaccine (or a second, in the case of single-dose vaccines, such as Janssen’s) has intensified in countries that have already advanced their vaccination campaigns, because of the signs that the protection offered by the drugs is waning over the months.
According to WHO Director of Immunization Katherine O’Brien, however, there is no scientific evidence that this strengthening is necessary, and countries studying this measure – such as the United States and the United Kingdom – should focus their efforts on completing immunization of the most vulnerable.
“There is an extraordinary inequality in protection from Covid around the world today,” said Bruce Aylward, senior WHO adviser. He cited the case of Africa, where only 2% of the population is already fully immunized, leaving out priority groups such as the elderly, the sick and health professionals.
“What we are asking for is more solidarity. May the rich countries withhold their booster vaccination policies until we have enough resources to protect the world, ”he said.
The directors of the WHO consider that the same reasoning should be valid for the immunization of children. “Our international group of scientific advisers recommends that immunization should be prioritized, from most vulnerable to least. It has been done internally in countries, but it needs to be done globally, ”Aylward said.
“The G20 must make concrete commitments to support the global immunization goals. We call on all who have influence — Olympic athletes, investors, business leaders, religious leaders and every individual in their own family and community — to support our call for a moratorium, ” Ghebreyesus said.
Although the WHO coordinates health and immunization policies around the world, with an important role in the poorest countries, it does not have the power to impose its recommendations. Previous demands with the same goal of allowing more vaccines to reach those most in need have not been met.
This was the case, for example, with the call for governments not to start immunizing children and adolescents until all seniors and health workers are immunized worldwide, or the recommendation not to use immunization. as a condition for authorizing international travel.
When asked whether the moratorium request also extends to cases such as immunocompromised patients, for which it appears that regular full vaccination is not enough, the WHO said particularly vulnerable people must continue. to be protected, but the key is to change the landscape. wider.
“This is also why transmission control measures must be maintained. We don’t want an escalation in hospitalizations and deaths, ”said Katherine O’Brien, WHO director of immunization.
She clarified that the contamination of people who are already fully immunized is possible, because the effectiveness of drugs is never 100%, and that the growth in the number of cases is not due to vaccine failures, but to relaxation. preventive measures.