WHO European head backs 3rd Covid vaccine doses for the vulnerable

WHO European head backs 3rd Covid vaccine doses for the vulnerable
A farmer gets his first dose of COVID-19 vaccine as he ploughs his field, on Saturday 5 June 2021. [File]Mubashir Khan for Greater Kashmir

Geneva: The head of the World Health Organization's European branch says he agrees with the top US infectious diseases expert that a third dose of coronavirus vaccines can help protect the people most vulnerable, and it shouldn't be seen as a “luxury booster.”

Dr. Hans Kluge cited “deeply worrying” levels of high transmission, saying 33 countries among the 53 in the WHO Europe region have reported an increase in case counts of 10 percent or more over the past two weeks.

Kluge said he spoke this month with Dr. Anthony Fauci, the U.S. Government's top infectious diseases expert, and said they shared the same conviction that “a third dose of vaccine is not a luxury booster, taking away from someone who is still waiting for a first jab.”

“It's basically a way to keep the people safe - the most vulnerable,” said Kluge, quickly adding that wealthy countries with excess vaccine doses “need to share” them with countries lacking them.

At WHO headquarters in Geneva, Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus and other top officials have called for a moratorium on booster shots, saying doses should first be shared to help vaccinate vulnerable populations in countries that are lacking them.

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