The World Health Organization’s director-general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, warned on Wednesday that vaccine booster programs could prolong the COVID-19 pandemic.
Tedros said the programs divert supplies from countries with low vaccination rates, where more coronavirus mutant variants could arise. Some global health experts believe the omicron variant likely emerged from an HIV patient in South Africa, which has only vaccinated about 26 percent of its population.
Why the warning? The latest omicron variant has prompted the United States to promote booster shots for all residents 16 and older.
Israel on Tuesday announced it would start to offer a fourth vaccine dose to health workers and residents older than 60.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Thursday authorized Merck’s COVID-19 pill, making it the second approved medication for battling the virus.
The WHO estimates only about half of its member states will have vaccinated at least 40 percent of their populations by the end of the year.
This story originally appeared in WORLD. © 2021, reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.