Israel, Germany and France will go ahead with boosting their COVID-19 vaccines from September, ignoring the World Health Organization (WHO) call for a delay until more people around the world are vaccinated.
The decision to move forward with boosted doses despite the strongest statement yet from the World Health Organization highlights the challenge of dealing with a global pandemic as countries try to protect their citizens from the more contagious delta variant.
President Emmanuel Macron said France is working to roll out third doses of the COVID-19 vaccine for the elderly and vulnerable from September.
“It is likely that the third dose will be necessary, not for everyone immediately, but in any case for the most vulnerable and the elderly,” Macron said on his Instagram account.
Germany plans to offer boosters to immunocompromised patients, the very elderly and those residing in nursing homes from September, the German health ministry said.
Watch | WHO calls for a moratorium:
On Wednesday, WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus called for a moratorium on boosting vaccines until at least the end of September, saying it was unacceptable for rich countries to use more of the global supply of the shots, with many developing countries barely starting to vaccinate their populations. .
The goal is for at least 10 percent of each country’s population to have access to a vaccine, Tedros said.
According to the World Health Organization, high-income countries administered about 50 doses per 100 people in May, and that number has doubled since then. Low-income countries were able to administer only 1.5 doses per 100 people, due to a lack of supplies.
“I understand the interest of all governments in protecting their people from the delta variable,” Tedros said. “But we cannot accept countries that have already used most of the global supply of vaccines by using more of them.”
Germany indicates contributions to the global vaccination campaign
Germany has rejected the accusations, saying it will donate at least 30 million doses of vaccine to poor countries.
“We want to offer vulnerable groups in Germany the third preventive vaccination and at the same time support the vaccination of as many people as possible in the world,” the Ministry of Health said.
Macron’s government is trying to ramp up France’s vaccination program as the country faces a fourth wave of the virus and street protests against the government’s coronavirus policies.
France and Germany have so far given at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine to 64.5 percent and 62 percent of their respective populations, with 49 percent of French and 53 percent of Germans fully vaccinated.
Seeking emergency permission
Israel said last month it would offer a third dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine to people over 60, becoming the first country in the world to mobilize for booster shots in the face of a highly contagious delta variant. Israel has not yet officially responded to the WHO’s appeal.
In an online discussion with the public and journalists, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said Israel’s campaign to give third doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine to people over the age of 60 will provide vital information to the world about combating the delta variant. He added that Israel, with a population of 9.3 million, is a small country whose “vaccine use does not significantly affect global supplies.”
Pfizer, citing Israeli data on infections among vaccinators, said it believed people would need an extra dose of the vaccine to keep protection against the coronavirus strong, as immunity from the original shots may wane after several months.
Pfizer said it plans to soon apply to US and European regulators for emergency authorization for booster shots.
The United States is working to give additional booster doses of COVID-19 to Americans with weakened immune systems as quickly as possible, US infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci said Thursday at a press briefing.
Rochelle Wallinsky, director of the Centers for Disease Control, said at the same press conference that the timing of the US decision on boosters would ultimately be determined by “an aggregation of evidence,” including data on neutralizing antibodies, clinical trial studies, and tracking of those who have been infected. vaccinate them. , especially those who received shots early in the mass vaccination campaign.
In practical terms, the United States will be able to administer boosters as well as donate excess supplies to other countries to address vaccine inequalities, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said on Wednesday.
“We feel it’s a wrong choice and we can do both,” she said.
Canadian government health officials said they are monitoring developments globally, but there are no supportive indications yet for any Canadians.