London — French President Emanuel Macron said Thursday his country would join the handful of nations that plan to offer a third dose of thevaccine to elderly and vulnerable people, despite the World Health Organization calling on Wednesday for a hold on booster shots until at least the end of September.
WHO chief Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus appealed for countries that were further along in their vaccination programs to wait until September to distribute third doses to allow for at least 10% of the population of every country to be vaccinated.
“I understand the concern of all governments to protect their people from the Delta variant. But we cannot accept countries that have already used most of the global supply of vaccines using even more of it,” Tedros said.
But it is unclear whether the 10% vaccination target can be met by then. In some countries, like the Democratic Republic of Congo and Haiti, not a single person has received two doses of a vaccine, BBC News reported. And while health experts were still weighing the need for a booster, some European countries are looking to shore up the immunity of their populations ahead of winter, according to The Washington Post.
Macron said France plans to offer the boosters starting next month. Earlier this week, Germany said it would begin offering third doses of the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines to elderly and at risk groups in September, and Israel said it is offering a booster to anyone over 60 who was vaccinated more than 5 months ago. The U.K. will also start offering booster shots to anyone over 50, according to The Telegraph newspaper.
U.S. health authorities were still assessing the need for booster vaccines, the Reuters news agency reported.
“The fact that we are vaccinating healthy adults with a booster dose of COVID-19 vaccines is a short-sighted way of thinking,” Elin Hoffmann Dahl, infectious diseases medical adviser to Doctors Without Borders’ access campaign, told Reuters.
“With the emergence of new variants, if we continue to leave the majority of the world unvaccinated, we will most definitely need adjusted vaccines in the future.”