The World Health Organisation has warned that “no country can boost its way out” of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The rush for wealthy countries to roll-out the additional Covid vaccine doses is making it harder for other nations to get hold of the jab and is “likely to prolong the pandemic”, according to the World Health Organisation’s director-general Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesu.
He also warned that it is wrong for any nation to think that boosters alone can guarantee that everyone has a safe festive season.
He told a WHO press conference: “No country can boost its way out of the pandemic and boosters cannot be seen as a ticket to go ahead with planned celebrations, without the need for other precautions.”
His comments came as new figures showed that more than 30 million extra doses of Covid-19 vaccine have now been given in the UK.
A record 968,665 booster and third doses were reported for the UK on Tuesday. The previous record was 940,606 doses on Saturday.
It means a total of 30.8 million booster and third doses have now been delivered, with 6.1 million in the past seven days, according to the figures which have been published by the UK’s four health agencies.
The head of the WHO said that some nations are in the middle of blanket booster roll-out while “distortions in global supply” mean that only half of WHO’s member states are on target to vaccinate 40% of their populations by the end of the year.
He said: “Blanket booster programmes are likely to prolong the (Covid-19) pandemic, rather than ending it, by diverting supply to countries that already have high levels of vaccination coverage, giving the virus more opportunity to spread and mutate.
“It’s important to remember that the vast majority of hospitalisations and deaths are in unvaccinated people, not un-boosted people. And we must be very clear that the vaccines we have remain effective against both the Delta and Omicron variants.”
He added that the “global priority” must be to support all countries “to achieve our targets of vaccinating 40% of the population of every country by the end of this year, and 70% by the middle of next year.”
Around 58% of all adults in the UK have now had a booster or third dose of Covid-19 vaccine, according to analysis by the PA news agency.
This is up from 46% a week ago.