Almost two years into the largest and fastest vaccination campaign the world has ever seen, its biggest challenge remains: ensuring equitable global distribution to achieve adequate vaccine coverage even in low-income countries.
While almost 13 billion vaccine doses have been administered worldwide, more than two billion people remain unvaccinated to this day, voluntarily or involuntarily. And despite the COVAX initiative shipping 1.8 billion doses to 146 countries and territories, people in low-income countries remain underprotected.
According to estimates from the Oxford University’s Our World in Data, which has been tracking the vaccine rollout from the start, 162 doses have been administered per 100 people worldwide so far. Looking at vaccine distribution by country income group reveals the problem, however. As of October 31, more than 210 doses per 100 people have been administered in high and upper middle-income countries, while only 31 doses per 100 people have been given in low-income countries. In other words, less than 20 percent of the roughly 740 million people who live in low-income countries are fully vaccinated against Covid-19, increasing the risk of new variants to emerge.
As our latest Racing Bars video reveals, one region in particular has been left behind in the global vaccine rollout and that is Africa. Across the continent, just 47 vaccine doses per 100 people had been administered by the end of October 2022, compared to at least 170 doses per 100 people in all other world regions.
According to the WHO, supply constraints are no longer the problem in the global vaccine rollout, as the main challenge has shifted towards distribution: “For the first time since the pandemic began, the global supply of vaccines is not currently a binding constraint. This means the overarching challenge is now vaccine delivery – getting shots into arms.”