World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus attends a news conference in Geneva Switzerland July 3, 2020. Fabrice Coffrini/Pool via REUTERS
WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Monday that COVID-19 booster shots should be delayed as priority should be given to raising vaccination rates in countries where only 1% or 2% of the population has been inoculated.
If vaccination rates are not raised globally, stronger variants of the coronavirus could develop and vaccines intended as booster shots should be donated to countries where people have not received their first or second doses, he said during a visit to Budapest.
"In addition, there is a debate about whether booster shots are effective at all," Ghebreyesus told a news conference with Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto.
Those whose immune system is compromised should get a booster shot, though they represent only small percentage of the population, he added.
The WHO said last week current data does not indicate that COVID-19 booster shots are needed and that the most vulnerable people worldwide should be fully vaccinated before high-income countries deploy a top-up.
The Unites States announced last week it plans to make COVID-19 vaccine booster shots widely available starting on Sept. 20 as infections rise from the coronavirus Delta variant. L1N2PP1K8
Hungary has already started widely distributing booster shots, with anyone eligible four months after they received their second dose of a coronavirus vaccine.
Reporting by Krisztina Than and Anita Komuves; Editing by Bernadette Baum
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