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Photo: FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP via Getty Images

The World Health Organization on Wednesday called for a moratorium of coronavirus vaccine booster shots through at least September to allow for poorer countries to have access to doses.

What they're saying: "We cannot and should not accept countries that have already used most of the global supply of vaccines using even more of it while the world’s most vulnerable people remain unprotected," said WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus at a press conference.

  • "Accordingly, WHO is calling for a moratorium on boosters until at least the end of September to enable at least 10% of the population of every country to be vaccinated," he said.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki responded to the WHO's demand: "We feel that it’s a false choice and that we can do both."

  • Psaki added that the reason why the U.S. had ordered "the number of doses with did order" is because they knew they would need to be prepared in case the Food and Drug Administration decides to recommend booster shots.
  • She said that the U.S. has sent 110 million doses and is beginning to donate 500 million Pfizer doses, "far more than any country around the world." Psaki said that the U.S. has also asked the global community to "step up."

The big picture: WHO officials have said that there is still not enough research or evidence on whether booster shots are effective in preventing the spread of the virus.

  • Germany and the United Kingdom announced they will start offering booster shots against the coronavirus in September.
  • Last month, Tedros said the global failure to share vaccines, testing and treatments gave way to a "two-track pandemic — the haves are opening up, while the have-nots are locking down."

Between the lines: The agency earlier this year set a target to have at least 10% of people in each country vaccinated by September, and at least 70% of every country by mid-2022.

  • "We’re now more than halfway to that target date, but we’re not on track," Tedros told reporters on Wednesday.

Go deeper

Nov 10, 2021 - Health

Nearly 1 million kids 5–11 on track for first week COVID vaccine

August Lopez, 6, gets the COVID-19 vaccine, Nov. 8, Los Angeles, Calif. Photo: Myung J. Chun/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

More than 900,000 children aged 5–11 will have received their first coronavirus vaccine dose by the end of Wednesday, according to the White House.

Driving the news: The CDC approved a two-dose series of Pfizer-BioNTech's COVID-19 vaccine for children 5–11 on Nov. 2, with some kids receiving their first dose the following day. First lady Jill Biden on Monday kicked off a "nationwide effort" to get more young children vaccinated.

Nov 10, 2021 - Health

Health insurance costs for workers rose 4% during pandemic

Illustration: Megan Robinson/Axios

Health insurance provided by employers this year cost an average of $22,200 for families and $7,700 for individuals, a 4% increase from a year ago, according to new survey data from the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Why it matters: While many people lost their jobs and health insurance during the pandemic, most companies didn't rock the boat heading into 2021. But even a relatively modest increase in the already high costs of job-based insurance means workers and families continue to pay a lot more for their health care.

Nov 9, 2021 - Health

Pfizer-BioNTech seek FDA authorization for COVID boosters for all adults

Photo: Thomas Kienzle/AFP via Getty Images

Pfizer and BioNTech said Tuesday that they have asked the Food and Drug Administration to expand authorization of their COVID-19 vaccine booster to include anyone 18 and older.

Why it matters: If the FDA agrees, it could significantly increase the number of people eligible for a booster.