In a stark sign of the inequity when it comes to fighting the COVID-19 pandemic, nearly 100 countries have partially vaccinated less than 10 percent of their populations while a handful of countries, including the US, approach more than 50 percent vaccination rates and face increasing pressure to help the rest of the world catch up.
The US has partially vaccinated nearly half of its population, but 91 countries have partially inoculated less than 10 percent of their citizenry, according to a tracker published by the New York Times using figures from Our World in Data.
The 91 includes wealthier countries such as Japan (1.5 percent) and New Zealand (2.9 percent), but most of the nations are smaller and poorer. For instance, just two percent of Africa, the world’s poorest continent, has been vaccinated.
India—which has been devastated by a Covid-19 outbreak in recent weeks—has partially vaccinated just 8.7 percent of its population, while Russia has partially immunised 7.9 percent. Larger countries Mexico, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Colombia, and South Korea are also below the 10 percent bar.
Other countries with less than 10 percent partially vaccinated include Cameroon, Niger, South Sudan, Libya, Papua New Guinea, Syria, Armenia, Kyrgyzstan, Mauritania, Zambia, Mali, Namibia, Mozambique, Timor-Leste, Vietnam, Gabon, Republic of the Congo, Sudan, Cabo Verde, Cote d’Ivoire, South Africa, Brunei, Sierra Leone, Honduras, Nigeria, Pakistan, Uganda, Iran, Afghanistan, Egypt, Guinea, Gambia, Iraq, Somalia, Venezuela, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Georgia, Djibouti, Ukraine, Trinidad and Tobago, Paraguay, Angola, Uzbekistan, Thailand, Kenya, Malawi, Laos, Botswana, Myanmar, Togo, North Macedonia, Senegal Malaysia, Belarus, Peru, Tunisia, Eswatini, Ghana, Rwanda, Moldova, Ecuador, Equatorial Guinea, Bahamas, Lebanon, Bolivia, Oman, Sri Lanka, São Tomé and Príncipe, Jamaica, Kazakhstan, Jordan, Suriname, Fiji, Montenegro, Nepal, Bulgaria, Cambodia, Dominican Republic, Costa Rica, Mauritius and Azerbaijan.
“COVID apartheid is now prevailing,” Namibian President Hage Geingob said during a WHO media briefing earlier this month, comparing world vaccine inequity to the South African apartheid system.
At the current pace of about three million doses of the vaccine per day, it will take the US about three more months to vaccinate 75 percent of its population, according to Bloomberg.
The world vaccination effort has — predictably — exposed the global wealth gap, with wealthier countries tending to be farther along than poorer nations.
As of this month, 40 percent of vaccines administered globally went to the 27 wealthier nations representing just 11 percent of the global population, according to Bloomberg.
Last week, WHO decried vaccine inequity as an outrage, and urged wealthier countries to donate vaccines to COVAX, its vaccine-sharing program. So far, COVAX has delivered 40.5 million doses to 118 countries but it is hoping to send two billion by the end of the year.
America’s vaccine rollout has been among the best in the world, and President Joe Biden has faced pressure to do more to help other nations. The US has administered the most doses of any country in the world, and about one in four Americans are fully vaccinated.
Health experts caution that even if the US reaches herd immunity, it will still remain vulnerable so long as other countries are not vaccinated because of COVID-19 variants.
“If we had decided to adhere to what the World Health Organisation has recommended — which is that frontline health care workers and other most vulnerable people should be vaccinated first, regardless of where they live — we would have distributed these vaccines very differently,” Dr Kate Elder of Doctors Without Borders’ told NPR in an interview last week. – Forbes