Despite the World Health Organization's (WHO) Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus urging countries to hold off on administering boosters shots against COVID-19, many nations have opted to begin distributing the additional injections to their residents.
On Thursday, French President Emanuel Macron said his government would join a handful of other countries that are planning to administer booster shots against the coronavirus. Lawmakers are opting to give the accessibility of a third or second dose (in the case of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine) to elderly and vulnerable people.
Against Moratorium on Booster Shots
The WHO's call against a booster shot came on Wednesday when Ghebreyesus recommended a moratorium on a coronavirus booster shot. He requested countries to keep themselves from handing out additional doses until at least September to allow at least 10% of the population in every country to get vaccinated against the virus, CBS News reported.
In a statement, Ghebreyesus said he understood country leaders' concern to protect their population from the coronavirus and the deadly Delta variant. However, he argued that the majority of the global supply of the vaccine has already been used up by more-developed countries and are continuing to use it.
However, it remained unclear whether the health agency's target of having 10% of the population in every country will be reached by the timeline Ghebreyesus mentioned. Many underdeveloped countries, such as Congo and Haiti, have struggled in their vaccination programs, with no reported individual being fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
Macron said his government planned to distribute booster shots starting next month. Germany also said earlier this week that it would offer third doses of the coronavirus vaccine manufactured by Moderna and Pfizer to elderly and risk groups in September. Israeli authorities said they would also give residents over the age of 60 who have already been vaccinated at least five months ago a booster shot.
The United States White House press secretary Jen Psaki dismissed Ghebreyesus' call for a booster shot moratorium. She said that the WHO was setting up a "false choice" regarding an additional vaccine dose, NPR reported.
Delta Variant Spread
The situation comes amid the speedy spread of the Delta variant that is found to be more transmissible than the original strain. It is also known to infect children much more frequently than before.
Children's Hospital New Orleans has seen a surge of very sick children being admitted into the hospital suffering from COVID-19 in the last two weeks. Officials revealed that the number of cases went from zero to 20 in half a month.
Dr. Mark Kline, the hospital's physician-in-chief, said they have never seen anything like the situation. He noted that children were falling ill, unlike in the early stages of the pandemic before the Delta variant surfaced.
Orlando Health Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children Infectious Diseases doctors in Florida revealed they had observed similar numbers of cases. Dr. Federico Laham, the medical director for the hospital, said that cases have continued to surge in the last two weeks. He added that the hospital has not yet reached its peak of admitted cases, NBC News reported.