“On the way to reaching 70% vaccination, countries should prioritise the goal of vaccinating 100% of health workers and the most vulnerable groups, including older populations – over 60 years old – and those who are immunosuppressed or have underlying factors,” the WHO said in a statement.
Despite considering the largest and fastest immunisation process in history, the organisation warns that only 28% of the elderly and 37% of health workers in low-income countries have the primary vaccination and most have not yet been vaccinated with the booster dose.
In addition, 27 WHO Member States have not yet started a booster vaccination programme, 11 of which are low-income countries.
In light of this data, the organization led by Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has now raised immunization targets against the virus that causes covid-19 with the aim of “reducing deaths, keeping societies open and ensuring that economies function as transmission continues.”
“Even when 70% of vaccination coverage [expected for this year] is reached, if a significant number of health workers, the elderly and other risk groups are not vaccinated, deaths will continue, health systems will remain under pressure and global recovery will be at risk," warned the WHO director-general.
While stressing that vaccines will have saved 19.8 million lives, the organization acknowledged that they have not substantially reduced the spread of covid-19 worldwide.
“More innovation is needed to develop new vaccines that substantially reduce transmission, are easier to administer, and ensure broader and longer-lasting protection,” says the strategy, which was updated based on the emergence of subvariants of Ómicron and scientific data on vaccination.