Watch: Mass hysteria means people 'getting booster jabs like Smarties'
A worldwide "mass hysteria" means people in some countries are "getting COVID vaccine boosters like they're taking Smarties", an expert has claimed.
Dr Ayoade Alakija, co-chair of the African Union’s African Vaccine Delivery Alliance, was speaking to the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on coronavirus on Tuesday in a debate about vaccine inequality.
“The fact is, the horse has bolted as far as the vaccines because of course the political decision has been made,” said Dr Alakija.
“There’s almost a mass hysteria now. Some people in some countries are getting boosters like they’re taking Smarties.
“I personally know people who have had about four vaccines in some countries because the mass hysteria is this is what is going to protect us.”
In England, it was announced on Monday that the booster programme will be extended to include people aged 40 and over.
Dr Alakija warned: “We are in an era of populism. We are in an era of nationalism. And global vaccine nationalism is what has taken over.
“The reason we are not vaccinating the world is not because we don’t understand that we should, come on, it’s not rocket science.”
Dr Alakija added: “What also seems to be innate in the world at the moment is selfishness and greed.
“There’s this intense selfishness that is going around the world leaders particularly and G7 nations, where there hasn’t been a global co-ordinated effort to ensure that we share vaccines in an equitable manner.”
David Nabarro, special envoy on COVID-19 for the World Health Organization (WHO), told the APPG: “The only challenge we have in this current situation of vaccine shortage, if there is a hoovering up of vaccines for the boosters, that is just going to have global consequences that are really quite extreme.”
Dr Nicaise Ndembi, chief science advisor at the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told the APPG: “I think we all know, no one is safe until everyone is.”
“It is time now to a have a global response to the pandemic rather than having very localised approaches.”
According to the University of Oxford research platform, Our World in Data, huge gaps remain between low and high income groups when it comes to vaccine uptake.
Some 64% of people who are upper middle income were fully vaccinated against COVID-19 as of Monday, and 66% of those in the high income bracket.
But only 24% of those with a lower middle income have had two coronavirus jabs.
And among those with low incomes, just 4.6% have had either one or two COVID-19 jabs.
Speaking at a Downing Street briefing on Monday, Johnson said boosters will mean a change to the definition of being fully vaccinated against coronavirus.
“It’s very clear that getting three jabs – getting your booster – will become an important fact and it will make life easier for you in all sorts of ways," he said.
“We will have to adjust our concept of what constitutes a full vaccination to take account of that."
He also warned that “storm clouds are gathering” over parts of Europe with a “new wave” of COVID sweeping through the continent.
“We don’t yet know the extent to which this new wave will sweep up on our shores but history shows that we cannot afford to be complacent,” he said.
Austria went into a new lockdown on Monday for people who are not vaccinated against COVID-19, while the Netherlands returned to a partial lockdown at the weekend.
Watch: Booster jabs to be offered to all over-40s in the UK