WHO says vaccine booster programs will prolong Covid crisis: ‘No country can boost its way out of the pandemic’

World Health Organization officials on Wednesday criticized blanket Covid-19 vaccine booster programs as poor countries struggle to obtain initial doses, warning that the unequal access to immunizations could lead to more mutated variants that drag out the crisis.

“Blanket booster programs are likely to prolong the pandemic, rather than ending it, by diverting supply to countries that already have high levels of vaccination coverage, giving the virus more opportunity to spread and mutate,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said during a news briefing.

The comments from the WHO come as health officials in the U.S. promote vaccine booster shots for all residents over the age of 16 amid a surge in Covid cases driven by the omicron strain. Israel on Tuesday announced it would offer a fourth dose of Covid-19 vaccines to people older than 60.