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WHO presses world leaders to hold off on Covid vaccine booster shots through September

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World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus attends a news conference organized by Geneva Association of United Nations Correspondents (ACANU) amid the COVID-19 outbreak, at the WHO headquarters in Geneva Switzerland July 3, 2020.

Fabrice Coffrini | Pool | Reuters

The World Health Organization asked world leaders again to hold off on administering Covid-19 boosters for at least another month to give poorer nations the chance to inoculate more of their populations with first doses.

More than 5 billion Covid vaccine shots have been administered globally, with 75% of them administered in just 10 countries, according to the WHO.

“That’s why I have called for a moratorium on boosters, at least until the end of this month to allow those countries that are furthest behind to catch up,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a briefing Wednesday.

The director of the global health agency said that some high-income countries have adult vaccination rates of 50%, while low-income countries, including many in Africa, still have adult vaccination rates of less than 2%. The U.S. has fully vaccinated more than 52% of its population, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Additional doses may be required for those with compromised immune systems or waning immunity, “but for now, we do not want to see widespread use of boosters for healthy people who are fully vaccinated,” Tedros said.

Nearly 1 million Covid-19 vaccine booster shots have already been administered in the U.S. since health officials authorized administering extra shots of Pfizer’s or Moderna’s vaccines to people with weakened immune systems on Aug. 12, according to the CDC.

President Joe Biden said the U.S. plans to widely distribute Covid booster shots beginning the week of Sept. 20, pending clearance from Food and Drug Administration and CDC scientists.

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