WHO calls for moratorium on boosters; COVAX sending 10M more vaccines to PH

Raphael Bosano, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 14 2021 02:35 PM

A health worker shows the vial of the Comirnaty COVID19 vaccine of Pfizer BioNTech during its first rollout inside the Makati Medical Center on May 12, 2021.
A health worker shows the vial of the Comirnaty COVID19 vaccine of Pfizer BioNTech during its first rollout inside the Makati Medical Center on May 12, 2021. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA – The World Health Organization has called for a moratorium on the administration of booster shots of COVID-19 vaccines. 

WHO Country Representative Dr. Rabindra Abeyasinghe defines a booster as a 3rd dose for people who have already completed a 2-dose regimen of the anti-COVID jabs. Citing global vaccine inequity as a primary reason for the moratorium, Abeyasinghe said there are currently not enough evidences pointing to fully-vaccinated individuals requiring a third dose. But there may be exceptions.

“The only exception to this is when those 2 doses have not been able to generate required immunity because some people have immunocompromised situations, they may require a 3rd dose. When we’re talking about immunocompromised people it may be elderly or people who have other immune problems that may require a booster dose,” he said. 

Abeyasinghe added that based on current data, 90% of high and middle income countries have reached the target of inoculating 10% of their population while 70% have already reached the target of vaccinating 40% of their people. 

Unfortunately, he said “not a single low and middle income country has reached either of these targets.”

Vaccine inequity, if left unaddressed for a long time, will pave the way to more transmissions, surges and outbreaks which would result in further mutations and variants. 

To help the country vaccinate more of its people, the COVAX facility is set to deliver more vaccines on top of the 13 million doses it has already sent which have been administered to 8 million Filipinos. 

“COVAX has allocated further 10 million doses to come to the Philippines within the next few weeks. We expect larger consignments within this 3rd and 4th quarters to come to the Philippines and in many other countries who are recipients of COVAX vaccines. We will be mobilizing larger and larger quantities of vaccines so that we can achieve that 20% population protection before the end of the year.”

Health authorities continue to call on those belonging to vulnerable populations particularly the elderly to get themselves vaccinated and protected against severe forms of the disease and possible death. At present, there are still close to 4 million elderly people who have yet to be inoculated. 

“We still have nearly 3.6 million elderly people who have not received a single shot. This is unfortunate and unsatisfactory and a result of the inequity of vaccines that is happening which we need to correct urgently. As COVAX delivers more vaccines, we urge for protecting the most vulnerable as quickly as possible and that include the elderly,” he said. 

While the National Capital Region has been able to vaccine more than half of its people, Abeyasinghe admits that it is not “adequate at this point to relax quarantine positions.”

In light of the current transmission rates, the WHO says maintaining levels of restriction will help hold the healthcare system and avoid creating a situation were utilization will increase even more.

Watch more on iWantTFC