The World Health Organisation (WHO) has released an update to its ongoing global Covid-19 strategy in order to reach individuals yet to be vaccinated.
The update to WHO’s Global Covid-19 Vaccination Strategy1, was made in response to the spread of Omicron subvariants, advances in vaccine evidence, and lessons from the global vaccination programme, the organisation stated.
Whilst over 12 billion doses have been administered globally, many low-income countries are yet to vaccinate large portions of their populations. For instance, WHO states that only 28% of older populations and 37% of health care workers in low-income countries have been vaccinated with their primary series. More so, 27 of WHO’s Member States have not yet started a booster or additional dose programme, 11 of which are low-income countries.
WHO’s updated strategy aims to use primary and booster doses to reduce deaths and severe disease, in order to protect health systems, societies and economies. This forms part of the organisation’s 70% vaccination target, for which it says countries should prioritise achieving the underpinning targets of vaccinating 100% of health care workers and 100% of the most vulnerable groups, including older populations (over 60s) and those who are immunocompromised or have underlying conditions.
The strategy highlights the need for measuring progress in vaccinating high priority groups and for using local data and community engagement to ensure that there is a demand for vaccines and so that displaced people can receive them. It also has the goal of accelerating development and ensuring equitable access to improved vaccines to substantially reduce transmission as the top priority but also to achieve durable, broadly protective immunity.
“Even where 70% vaccination coverage is achieved, if significant numbers of health workers, older people and other at-risk groups remain unvaccinated, deaths will continue, health systems will remain under pressure and the global recovery will be at risk,” said WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. “Vaccinating all those most at risk is the single best way to save lives, protect health systems and keep societies and economies open.”