The WHO chief stressed that the vast majority of hospitalizations and deaths concern “unvaccinated people, not unsupported people”.
The Director General of the World Health Organization (WHO), Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said on Wednesday that “no country can find a way out” to the coronavirus pandemic (Covid-19). Ahead of the festive Christmas and New Year week, the WHO chief told a press conference that booster doses of the vaccine cannot be seen “as a ticket to moving forward with the drugs planned celebrations.
Citing a report from the Strategic Advisory Group of Experts (Sage) on immunization, the WHO chief stressed that immunization must remain focused on reducing deaths and serious illness. He said about 20% of all vaccine doses given each day are currently given as boosters or supplemental doses, expressing concern that general booster schedules may worsen immunization inequalities.
“General booster 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 more opportunities to spread and mutate.” , he said during the briefing.
Western countries have extended their booster programs to most of the eligible adult population, while many countries have yet to fully immunize half of their populations. Tedros pointed out that the vast majority of hospitalizations and deaths are “unvaccinated people, not unimproved people”.
“And we must be very clear that the vaccines we have, remain effective against both the Delta and Omicron variants,” he said, adding that global priority must be to support all countries to reach the 40% target as quickly as possible, and the 70% target by the middle of 2022.
The WHO also issued updated guidance for health workers, recommending the use of either a respirator or a medical mask, in addition to other personal protective equipment, when entering a room on suspected or confirmed case Omicron patient. It advised that respirators, which includes masks known as N95, FFP2 and others, should especially be worn in care settings where ventilation is known to be poor.