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World Health Organization suggests delay in child vaccination in wealthier countries

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Posted: Tuesday, May 18, 2021. 2:29 pm CST.

By Aaron Humes: Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the World Health Organization, has urged wealthier nations to postpone plans to give children and teenagers Covid vaccines and instead donate supplies to low-income countries and particularly to global fair-access scheme Covax, the BBC reports.

Speaking at a virtual conference in Geneva on Friday, Dr Tedros said he understood why some countries wanted to vaccinate children and adolescents, but said “right now, I urge them to reconsider.”

The international distribution of Covid vaccines remains vastly uneven. Since the first vaccines were approved in December, wealthier countries have bought up most of the supply. Many are racing to vaccinate as much of their population as possible.

“In low and lower-middle income countries, COVID-19 vaccine supply has not been enough to even immunise healthcare workers, and hospitals are being inundated with people that need lifesaving care urgently,” Dr Tedros said.

Meanwhile, the United States and Canada have begun laying out plans for shots to teenagers between 12 to 15; one Canadian province with the highest rate of the virus in the country has already started offering the vaccine, and in Switzerland, some places began offering Covid vaccination appointments to 16-year-olds last week.

The U.S., China and India lead the national vaccination race, but while nearly all of Europe and the Americas have begun vaccination campaigns, a few countries in Africa are still to get started.

Dr Tedros also warned that the second year of the pandemic was likely to be deadlier than the first, and that the situation in India was of grave concern.

In India, many health workers on the frontline dealing with coronavirus patients have not been vaccinated, and some are dying. The severe shortage of doses comes amid a deadly second Covid wave and warnings of an impending third wave.

The WHO says this is a moral catastrophe, which could greatly impact more low-income countries.

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