The World Health Organization warned that Africa would receive 25% fewer doses of the coronavirus vaccine than expected by the end of the year, partly because of the approval of booster shots in developed countries.
Why it matters: The continent lags behind the rest of the world in vaccinations. The cut to doses will further delay African countries’ vaccination efforts, raising the risk of emerging new, more aggressive variants.
What they’re saying: Matshidiso Moeti, the WHO’s regional director for Africa, criticized developed countries for wasting vaccine doses and specifically referenced the more than 15 million doses that have been discarded in the U.S. since March.
“This is enough vaccines to cover everyone over 18 years in Liberia, Mauritania, and The Gambia,” Moeti said in a news conference Thursday. “Every dose is precious and has the potential to save a life.”
Moeti said high-income countries have pledged to share 1 billion doses globally and, so far, only 120 million have been released.
“If [vaccine-producing] countries and companies prioritize vaccine equity, this pandemic would be over quickly.”
By the numbers: Just over 3% of the continent’s population has been fully vaccinated against the virus, according to data from the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The virus has infected at least 7,970,000 people on the continent and has killed 201,296.
The big picture: The WHO strongly opposes the approval of booster shots in developed countries, arguing the data on the need for them is inconclusive, and the doses would be better used to vaccinate people in poorer nations.
WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus called on wealthy nations Wednesday to forgo administering booster shots through the end of the year.
Yes, but: The Biden administration, which has unveiled plans for booster shots starting in September, has argued that the additional shots are needed to curb the spread of the virus in the U.S. and that developed countries can both administer boosters and deliver doses to developing countries.