Article Text

Download PDFPDF
Three for me and none for you? An ethical argument for delaying COVID-19 boosters


This paper argues in support of the WHO’s proposal to forego COVID-19 booster shots until 10% of people in every country are fully vaccinated. The Ethical Argument section shows that we save the most lives and ensure the least amount of suffering by allocating doses first to unvaccinated people. It also argues that there is a duty to support decent lives and to promote health equity, which establish that refraining from boosters is a requirement of justice, not charity. The Replies to Objections section answers objections that appeal to pragmatism, nationalism, ownership, scientific advancement, self-interest, semantics and futility. The Conclusion section emphasizes that for now, wealthy nations should not boost vaccinated people’s immunity and should instead send doses to poorer nations where they are most urgently needed.

  • COVID-19
  • ethics
  • resource allocation

Data availability statement

No data was used in this study.

This article is made freely available for personal use in accordance with BMJ’s website terms and conditions for the duration of the covid-19 pandemic or until otherwise determined by BMJ. You may use, download and print the article for any lawful, non-commercial purpose (including text and data mining) provided that all copyright notices and trade marks are retained.

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.