The World Health Organisation (WHO) chief warned that the rush in wealthy countries to roll out additional Covid-19 vaccine doses was deepening the inequality in access to doses that is prolonging the pandemic.

The UN health agency has long warned that the glaring ineuality in access to Covid-19 vaccines, which has left many vulnerable people in poorer nations without a single dose as richer countries roll out broad booster programmes.

“Blanket booster programmes are likely to prolong the Covid-19 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 told reporters.

A researcher works on the Omicron variant at the Africa Health Research Institute in Durban, South Africa