WHO leader calls for countries to vaccinate at least 10 percent of their populations by September

The World Health Organization’s (WHO) director-general on Monday called for all countries to vaccinate at least 10 percent of their populations by September and at least 30 percent by the end of 2021 in a “Drive to December”

Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus declared during a speech to the annual World Health Assembly that WHO member states should back the “massive push” to reach these COVID-19 vaccination goals.

“This is crucial to stop severe disease and death, keep our health workers safe and reopen our societies and economies,” Tedros said.

What needs to happen: In order to reach the September target, 250 million more people in low- and middle-income countries have to get vaccinated, he said, “including all health workers and the most at-risk groups as the first priority.”

Tedros said WHO member nations need to share vaccine doses through COVAX — a program designed to get shots to low- and middle-income countries — to accomplish both goals.

More than 75 percent of all vaccines have been administered so far in only 10 wealthy countries, he said, noting that the number of shots would have been enough for all health workers and older people in the world.

“Right now, there is not enough supply,” he said. “Countries that vaccinate children and other low-risk groups now do so at the expense of health workers and high-risk groups in other countries. That’s the reality.”

Background: The U.S.’s FDA authorized the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine to be given to 12- to 15-year-olds earlier this month, leading states to open up vaccinations to this age group.