Africa backs WHO call for moratorium on Covid-19 boosters

By Nerea Gonzalez

Johannesburg, Aug 5 (EFE).- Health authorities in Africa endorsed Thursday the call from the World Health Organization (WHO) for a global moratorium on booster doses of the Covid-19 vaccine until the end of September.

Only 1.58 percent of the continent’s 1.2 billion residents have received the full course of the Covid-19 vaccine and fewer than 4 percent have had at least one dose.

“Our position is clear. We need to vaccinate as many people as possible with the available vaccines before looking at booster doses,” John Nkengasong, director of the African Union’s Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told a press conference.

He cited the risk of new variants appearing Africa due to low vaccination rates as a reason to enhance inoculation worldwide before moving on to boosters.

The only to stop the pandemic is to inoculate as many people as possible, Nkengasong said, seconding the WHO’s appeal for a global moratorium on booster shots.

Great disparity among countries is also a concern for Africa CDC, with 29 percent of Morocco’s population having received at least one dose, while Tanzania only started to vaccinate residents this week, and Burundi and Eritrea have no access to the vaccine.

Most African nations are going through a third wave of Covid-19 infections fuelled by the Delta variant, with more than 6.8 million cases and roughly 73,800 deaths since the pandemic began.

Administering a third dose poses both ethical and technical issues, according to Gilson Paluku, director of immunization for WHO’s Africa bureau.

On the technical side, he pointed to an absence of data to support the need for booster doses.

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