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WHO: – Refreshment doses prolong the pandemic

In Malawi, nurse Lizzie Mwale smiles big. She finally has vaccines to put. Only three percent of the inhabitants of the poor country are fully vaccinated. Mwale is relieved that the number of vaccines is increasing, but deliveries are uncertain.

– We never know if we will get enough vaccines to set the second dose within twelve weeks. It creates mistrust of the health system, says the nurse, before she continues the long-awaited vaccination.

– The skew distributions cost lives

Malawi is among the countries suffering from the skewed distribution of vaccines. While very many rich countries offers refreshment doses to everyone, also for healthy people, many poor countries are just getting started with the vaccination.

“The unfair distribution of vaccines has undoubtedly cost many lives,” said WHO Secretary-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

Norway is among more and more countries that offer a refreshment dose to everyone. Photo: Truls Aagedal / TV 2

The message to the WHO has been clear since the beginning: The pandemic is not over for anyone until it is over for everyone.

– Prolongs the pandemic

But now the WHO fears that the skewed distribution will be even worse due to the extensive refresher programs, and warns against the consequences.

– Giving refreshment doses to everyone will probably prolong the pandemic rather than put an end to it. Prioritizing vaccine doses to countries that already have high vaccination coverage gives the virus a greater chance of spreading and mutating.

To prevent this, the WHO is asking rich countries to give more doses to poor countries.

– The year 2022 must be the year where we end the pandemic. 2022 must also be the start of a new era: An era of solidarity, says the WHO chief.

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