Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus Reuters

The head of the World Health Organization (WHO) on Monday called for a two-month moratorium on administering booster shots of COVID-19 vaccines as a means of reducing global vaccine inequality, reports The Associated Press.

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told reporters in Hungary's capital, Budapest, that he was “really disappointed” with the scope of vaccine donations worldwide as many countries struggle to provide first and second doses to more than small fractions of their populations while wealthier nations maintain growing vaccine stockpiles.

Tedros called on countries offering third vaccine doses "to share what can be used for boosters with other countries so (they) can increase their first and second vaccination coverage.”

The WHO has several times in recent weeks criticized those countries who are offering COVID-19 booster shots.

Tedros recently urged the countries and companies controlling the supply of vaccine doses to prioritize addressing the drastic inequity in vaccine distribution between rich and poor nations.

The United States rejected the WHO appeal, saying the US has enough vaccines to both administer booster shots should they be needed as well as to supply poorer nations.

Last week, the WHO's emergency director Mike Ryan condemned the rush by wealthy countries to provide COVID-19 vaccine booster shots, while millions around the world have yet to receive a single dose.

"We're planning to hand out extra life jackets to people who already have life jackets, while we're leaving other people to drown without a single life jacket," he said, adding, "The fundamental, ethical reality is we're handing out second life jackets while leaving millions and millions of people without anything to protect them.”

US authorities last week announced that all vaccinated Americans would soon be eligible to receive additional doses.

Israel has also begun administering third doses. Britain will also offer booster vaccines against COVID-19 to 32 million citizens starting early next month with up to 2,000 pharmacies set to deliver the program.

Germany has also announced it will start offering COVID-19 booster shots as of September.

“Vaccine injustice and vaccine nationalism” increase the risk of more contagious variants emerging, Tedros said on Monday, according to AP.

“The virus will get the chance to circulate in countries with low vaccination coverage, and the delta variant could evolve to become more virulent, and at the same time more potent variants could also emerge,” he added.