June 23, 2021

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Covid vaccine inequality: richer countries fared better than poorer ones in introducing the vaccine

Covid vaccine inequality: richer countries fared better than poorer ones in introducing the vaccine


The world is rapidly being divided into “haves” and “haves” coronavirus vaccines, creating a gap that could define the next phase of the pandemic.

Using publicly available data from Our World in Data, the Washington Post found that nearly half – 48% – of all vaccine doses administered so far have only reached 16% of the world’s population in what the World Bank considers countries. high income.

During the summer and fall of last year, wealthy nations entered into deals directly with vaccine manufacturers, buying a disproportionate share of initial doses and undermining a World Health Organization-backed effort, called Covax, to distribute equitably. the shots.

So now, in a small number of relatively wealthy nations, including the United States, doses are relatively abundant and mass immunization campaigns are proceeding apace. But much of the world is still struggling to secure enough supply. For many, herd immunity is many months, if not years, away, which could prolong the crisis.

A team from Duke University’s Global Health Innovation Center found that high-income countries have blocked 53% of vaccine supply in the short term. They estimate that the 92 poorest countries in the world will not be able to achieve a vaccination rate of 60% of their population until 2023 or later.

The front of the pack

Israel has so far immunized the largest number of people per capita. As of April 19, nearly 60 percent of Israelis had received at least one dose and nearly 58 percent were fully vaccinated, according to Our World in Data. Although Israel was later than some countries to sign vaccine deals, it offered to pay higher prices and give drug companies access to its health data. The country reportedly spent $ 788 million on coronavirus vaccines by March, most notably on a large Pfizer-BioNTech RNA vaccine shipment. While Israel was criticized for neglecting the Palestinian population in its midst, its vaccination campaign was otherwise considered a success and allowed for a return to a more normal lifestyle, including the elimination of the requirements for external masks.

People sit in a cafe in Tel Aviv on April 19th. Israel has vaccinated enough people to be able to lift their masks outdoors. (Corinna Kern for The Washington Post)

[Israel’s ahead-of-the-world vaccine rollout offers hope for countries lagging behind]

Great Britain it is another country on the front line. Between the development, purchase and administration of vaccines, the country will spend about $ 16 billion, according to an estimate by the National Audit Office. To extend the offering as far as possible, Britain has opted for space doses of several months, meaning that while nearly 50% of the country has had at least one stroke, just over 16% are fully vaccinated. The campaign was postponed this month when concerns about rare blood clots in people receiving the AstraZeneca vaccine led the government to restrict use in adults under 30. However, the first studies in the UK show a significant reduction in infections and hospitalizations after a first dose of AstraZeneca. or Pfizer vaccines. And the country was able to slowly start lifting the blockade.

The United States, having experienced one of the world’s deadliest outbreaks, is now the envy of the world with its abundant supply of vaccines and rapidly progressing inoculation campaign. The country has spent billions on vaccine development, deals and distribution. About 41% of US residents have received at least one dose, and over 26% are fully vaccinated. Starting this week, all Americans over the age of 18 are entitled to a try, a milestone that could renew questions about what the country intends to do with its planned hundreds of millions of excess doses.

The Biden administration faces growing demands from public health advocates and activists to share, donating doses to countries in need, transferring technology to increase production capacity, or loosening export restrictions that have kept a number disproportionate shots, as well as critical vaccine materials, in the United States.

[U.S. could have 300 million extra vaccine doses, raising concerns about hoarding]

Chile it is another highlight of vaccination, even if it has not yet escaped the grip of the pandemic. Chile moved quickly to secure a large number of potential doses. It now leads the western hemisphere when it comes to per capita vaccinations, with around 41% of the population receiving a dose and over 29% fully vaccinated. At the same time, new cases of covid-19 are increasing due to new variants, block fatigue, and addiction to a Chinese vaccine that has proven less effective than Western offerings.

A covid-19 patient on a ventilator is treated at the intensive care unit of Felso-Szabolcsi hospital in Kisvarda, Hungary on April 13.
A covid-19 patient on a ventilator is treated at the intensive care unit of Felso-Szabolcsi hospital in Kisvarda, Hungary on April 13. (Attila Balazs / EPA-EFE / Shutterstock)

HungaryIt is also betting on as many vaccines as possible, breaking with the EU’s collective purchasing effort to cut bilateral deals for Chinese and Russian-made vaccines. About 35% of the people there have had a dose, but the country is still seeing a spring wave of deaths.

Both Canada and the European Union they have far more vaccines than much of the world, but their immunization campaigns are a source of significant anger and political backlash. Despite numerous advance purchase agreements, Canada struggled to ensure and smoothly administer effective doses, leaving residents seething as cases escalated. European officials, meanwhile, have faced criticism for taking too long to negotiate deals, leading to a delayed launch and variant-fueled spring surge.

Stuck in the middle

Among the countries that the World Bank classifies as low to middle or middle income, vaccination campaigns are progressing slowly for the most part.

Brazilians await a dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine during a vaccination day for those aged 57 and over in Duque de Caxias, near Rio de Janeiro, on April 21.
Brazilians await a dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine during a vaccination day for those aged 57 and over in Duque de Caxias, near Rio de Janeiro, on April 21. (Ricardo Moraes / Reuters)

Though Serbia – an upper-middle-income country that has cut deals for both Chinese and Russian vaccines – has fully vaccinated about 27% of its population, few others come close.

Brazil, a populous upper-middle-income country, for example, is losing thousands of people a day to coronavirus. Less than 12 percent of people there have had a dose, and the nation’s variant-fueled epidemic is turning into a regional super-spread event.

Another troubling case is India, a leading coronavirus vaccine maker struggling with its internal launch amid a spate of cases. Less than 8% of the population has received at least one dose and 1% are fully vaccinated, according to estimates by Our World in Data.

[India’s devastating outbreak is driving the global coronavirus surge]

With limited supply, China and Russia have engaged in vaccine diplomacy, donating or selling doses to countries in need in an apparent flu offer. Pakistan, for example, it has received doses from Chinese vaccine manufacturers and expects a small shipment of the Russian Sputnik V vaccine. So far less than 1% of the population has been vaccinated.

Left behind

For many countries, vaccination campaigns have just started.

Covax, the WHO-backed push to distribute doses, aims to deliver enough for 20% of participating countries by the end of the year, but may struggle to achieve that. Although shipments have arrived in some countries, the number of doses is limited and upcoming shipments may be delayed.

[Nearly 20 percent of the U.S. population is fully vaccinated. Many countries may not hit that target this year.]

A worker prepares to store boxes of vaccines in a cold room as the country receives its first batch of coronavirus vaccines under Covax in Accra, Ghana, in February.  24.
A worker prepares to store boxes of vaccines in a cold room as the country receives its first batch of coronavirus vaccines under Covax in Accra, Ghana, in February. 24. (Francis Kokoroko / Reuters)

Ghana it received the first doses of the program in February, for example, but like most low- and middle-income economies, it has far less than it needs. Only about 3 percent of people received a dose, according to an estimate by Our World in Date beginning this month.

In Nigeria, where officials are battling both shortages of supplies and hesitation of the vaccine, less than 1 percent of people have had a dose.

A small number of countries, including Tanzania, have indicated that they do not need vaccines, although that may change as the pandemic approaches.

About this story

Vaccination data from Our World in Data, Duke University, and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. World Bank and United Nations population data, rounded to the nearest million. World Bank Country Income Classifications. Wee People silhouettes.