Members of the World Health Organization and several independent health officials have called America's decision to administer COVID-19 booster shots "immoral" and "unconscionable." Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, who is the WHO Regional Director for Africa, explained that “as some richer countries hoard vaccines, they make a mockery of vaccine equity.”
Moeti's frustration is largely driven by the lack of COVID-19 vaccines available to those across the continent of Africa. The nation that Moeti was born in, South Africa, has only been able to administer 9.96 million COVID-19 vaccine doses. Furthermore, the nation Moeti works in, the Republican of Congo, has only been able to administer 255,000 doses of the vaccine. Overall, less than 2% of the continent has been vaccinated. Meanwhile, more than 51% of Americans have been fully vaccinated and millions of Americans remain unvaccinated despite doses being readily available across the country. Moeti pointed out that wealthier countries have administered more than 103 vaccine doses per 100 people, while in Africa it’s just six.
"If none of us are safe until all of us are safe, why are we talking about booster shots while less than 2% of Africa’s population is fully vaccinated?" Ahmednur Ali of the McMaster Health Forum asked.
"There's no reasonable defense for a 'booster for all' policy currently. The reality seems to be that lives in rich countries are believed to be worth more than the lives of fellow humans in poorer countries. Even considering obligations of states to their own, it's immoral," Jake Dunning of the University of Oxford added.
Despite pushback from health officials in the United States and around the world, President Joe Biden plans to roll out booster shots beginning September 20. Currently, the plan is to administer COVID-19 booster shots eight months after Americans receive their second dose of the vaccine.
“It will help us end the pandemic faster,” Biden said about administering a booster shot.
“Now I know [there are] some world leaders who say America shouldn’t get third shot until other countries got their first shot. I disagree. We can take care of America and help the world at the same time.”