Covid booster shots can keep the most vulnerable safe: WHO Europe headtext_fields
Copenhagen: Amid surging cases of coronavirus across the continent, the European office of the World Health Organisation (WHO) has asked vulnerable citizens to take boosters shots of the Covid-19 vaccine, media reports said on Tuesday.
"A third dose of vaccine is not a luxury booster taken away from someone who is still waiting for a first jab. It's basically a way to keep the most vulnerable safe," said Dr Hans Kluge, regional director of WHO Europe, the Guardian reported.
The high transmission rate of Covid-19 across Europe is "deeply worrying," said the WHO Europe calling for vaccination to be ramped up, Euronews reported.
This, however,contradicts WHO chief Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus' stance on Covid boosters, who instructed that Covid-19 booster shots should be delayed as the priority should be given to raising vaccination rates in countries where only 1% or 2% of the population has been inoculated.
"In 15 countries, there is a decrease in vaccination uptake even when the vaccines are available. So we have to work on multiple fronts and one of them is to decrease vaccine hesitancy," Dr Hans Kluge, regional director of WHO Europe, was quoted as saying to Euronews in an interview.
"The first priority is to ensure that the most vulnerable get their first and second shot. Then we have to do it all, meaning that in those countries where we see that people with decreased immunity, the elderly people, have a waning immunity against severe disease, then those countries can consider the third dose," he added.
According to the WHO, just 10 countries have administered 75 per cent of all vaccine supply, while low-income countries have vaccinated barely 2 per cent of their people.
Earlier this month, the WHO chief also called for a temporary moratorium on boosters to help shift supply to those countries that have not even been able to vaccinate their health workers and at-risk communities and are now experiencing major spikes.
"But we should do it all, meaning sharing doses with those countries which still didn't fully vaccinate health care workers, and at the same time look at the evolving evidence," Kluge said.
"We know in the pan-European region for example that there are at least 28 countries which have a surplus of doses. So those doses need to be shared as soon as possible," he noted.
Kluge also said that as summer comes to an end, the epidemiological picture across the 53 countries it monitors "is mixed" with a "greater than 10 per cent increase in 14-day case incidence", particularly in areas with low vaccinations. The last week also saw an "11 per cent increase in the number of deaths in the region".
So far, the region has recorded more than 64 million confirmed cases and 1.3 million deaths, the report said.