World Health Organization director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus called for a moratorium on vaccine booster shots until at least the end of September, in a news briefing in Geneva, Switzerland on Wednesday.
The director-general stated “WHO is calling for a moratorium on boosters until at least the end of September to enable at least 10% of the population of every country to be vaccinated. To make that happen, we need everyone’s cooperation, especially the handful of countries and companies that control the global supply of vaccines.
“Even while hundreds of millions of people are still waiting for their first dose, some rich countries are moving towards booster doses,” he added.
“So far more than 4 billion vaccine doses have been administered globally. More than 80% have gone to high and upper middle income countries, even though they account for less than half of the world’s population.”
As of now, the nations of Germany, the UK, and Israel have announced their intentions to provide booster shots for certain vulnerable sectors of their populations.
As he has in the past, the WHO director called into question the wisdom of the wealthier nations of the world taking up even more of the world’s vaccine supply while undeveloped countries still lag in getting their inoculation programs going.
He said that did indeed understand the concern all governments have in protecting their own people from the virus, and in particular the Delta variant, “we cannot and we should not accept countries that have already used most of the global supply of vaccines using even more of it while the world’s most vulnerable people remain unprotected.”
Back in May, Tedros had called for global support to enable all the nations of the world to be able to vaccinate at least 10% of their citizens by September of this year. So far, he related, this target will not be met.
At that time, wealthier nations were already giving approximately 50 doses for every 100 citizens; incredibly, he said, now this metric has doubled, with these countries now routinely administering almost 100 doses for that many people.
Meanwhile, poorer countries have only been able to give 1.5 doses for every 100 of their citizens due to not having enough supply. The option of having enough for those nations to provide booster shots is out of the question at this point.
Tedros stated “We need an urgent reversal from the majority of vaccines going to high income countries to the majority going to low income countries.”
He then called on the leaders of the G20 to make meaningful commitments to support the WHO’s global vaccination targets, and stated that vaccine producers need to prioritize the global inoculation program called COVAX.
He also called for entities to back his new call for a moratorium on all coronavirus booster shots until the situation is rectified.
Meanwhile, the US Centers for Disease Control announced that the Delta variant now represents an estimated 93.4% of all the instances of the coronavirus that now exist in the United States.
This includes all of the several sub-lineages of Delta, including Delta plus, which are all considered to be “variants of concern.” All of these strains together comprise a total of 93.4% of cases that were diagnosed during the last two weeks of last month.
In some areas — including the states of Iowa, Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska, where there are sizable pockets of vaccine hesitancy — this number is even higher, representing more than 98% of the instances of the virus.
The prevalence of the variant has been a main impetus in the discussion over the administration of booster shots.
As lately as of May 22, according to the CDC, Delta had made scant inroads into the US, representing just 3% of the cases leading up to that date. It is much more transmissible than the Alpha variant and the original coronavirus, with some studies claiming that it is 224% more transmissible than the first iteration of the virus.
Meanwhile the Alpha variant, which had first been identified in Great Britain, was the major culprit, causing 69% of all coronavirus infections at that time. In a complete reversal, the Alpha mutation now represents just 3% of all infections in the US, according to the CDC.
On Thursday, the Moderna corporation, headquartered in Cambridge, Massachusetts, said that it expects to complete its submission for the full approval of its vaccine to the FDA this month.
The firm noted in a news release that its vaccine shows 93% efficacy through a time period of six months.
“In final analysis of Phase 3 COVE study data, the Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine showed 93% efficacy, with the efficacy remaining durable through six months after administration of the second dose,” its statement said.
“Moderna has initiated the rolling submission process for a Biologics License Application (BLA) for our vaccine in the U.S. and expects to complete its submission in August.”
The pharmaceuticals firm had started its rolling submission process for the BLA a little more than two months ago, back on June 1.
The company’s results were gleaned from participants who had been fully vaccinated by November of 2020 and who were evaluated again four to six months after that time.
They showed a 93% protection against the virus at that time; however, that was — as seen clearly above– before the Delta variant had placed such a stranglehold on the country and the world.
Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel said in the statement “I am proud of the progress our teams at Moderna have made in the past quarter in advancing our development pipeline while addressing a global pandemic and quickly establishing global manufacturing and commercial organizations.
“We now have mRNA candidates in clinical trials across five therapeutic areas including infectious diseases, cardiovascular, oncology, rare disease and autoimmune disorders. We are pleased that our COVID-19 vaccine is showing durable efficacy of 93% through six months, but recognize that the Delta variant is a significant new threat so we must remain vigilant.”