COVID-19 Vaccination Gulf Widens Between Wealthy, Developing Countries

The emergency authorizations of several COVID-19 vaccines in late 2020 and early 2021 led the world to its next phase of the pandemic: getting these novel shots into arms worldwide. That progress has been uneven, even with global partnerships to assist in distributing vaccines to lower-income countries. This map shows the vaccination inequity between high-income countries and the rest of the world. It also depicts a striking vaccination divide by continent.

Illustration picture shows the Covid vaccination during a visit to the Roi Baudouin hospital in Guediawaye, Senegal, on the third day of a working visit of Belgian cooperation minister Kitir to Burkina Faso and Senegal, Wednesday 27 October 2021. BELGA PHOTO NICOLAS MAETERLINCK (Photo by NICOLAS MAETERLINCK/BELGA MAG/AFP via Getty Images)

One such partnership, COVAX, kicked off last September. A year later, the consortium had distributed 240 million doses to 139 countries, but international access to vaccines has remained inequitable.

In a Sept. 8 joint statement, members of the partnership said, “[T]he global picture of access to COVID-19 vaccines is unacceptable.” At the time, just one-fifth of people in low- and lower-middle income countries had received their first dose of the vaccine, while in higher-income-level countries, 80% had received a dose. The disparity is even more stark when examining just low-income countries. Roughly just 2%of people in the developing world have received at least one dose, according to Our World in Data, an online publication whose research team is based at the University of Oxford.

Meanwhile, officials in China announced on Sept. 16 that it had vaccinated 1 billion people, a figure that represents more than 70% of its population. Officials in fellow East Asian countries Japan and South Korea said that the percentage of their populations that had received at least one vaccine dose had surpassed the level in the United States.

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