On August 4, 2021, Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus of the World Health Organization (“WHO”) emphasized the import of delaying the administration of booster shots for the COVID-19 vaccine until at least September 2021. He believes this delay will allow at least 10% of the population of every country to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

Director Ghebreyesus emphasized the wealth disparity in vaccine distribution and advocated for an “urgent reversal” of the current trend. The director stated that the world cannot, and should not, accept high income countries that have already used most of the global supply of vaccines to use even more of that supply to re-vaccinate their populations with booster shots. He urged this was especially true considering how few individuals from low income countries have received the first round of vaccinations.

The director noted that more than 80% of the world’s administered vaccines were distributed in high and upper-middle income countries. According to the WHO, hundreds of millions of people are still waiting for an opportunity to be vaccinated with low income countries only able to administer 1.5 doses for every 100 people due to lack of supply thus far. Conversely, high income countries are now administering almost 100 doses for every 100 people. And delaying the administration of a booster shot should enable more vulnerable populations to receive the vaccine before the higher income countries begin to re-vaccinate their populations with a booster.

Norton Rose Fulbright lawyers will continue to provide relevant updates for healthcare providers on the Health Law Pulse during the COVID-19 public health crisis.