Global COVID-19 vaccine rollout hits 5-billion-dose milestone
Over five billion COVID-19 vaccine doses have now been administered around the world. This incredible milestone comes eight months after vaccinations commenced late in 2020, however, the World Health Organization (WHO) continues to express concern over the disparity in vaccine distribution from country to country.
According to Our World in Data, a non-profit site managed by researchers from the University of Oxford, nearly 25 percent of the world population has now been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and a little over 33 million vaccine doses are currently being administered every day.
Leading the world in total population vaccination rates is Malta, with an impressive 79.5 percent of people fully vaccinated. This is just over 90 percent of all citizens aged 12 and over.
With young children yet to be offered vaccines, the most highly vaccinated countries are currently sitting around the 70 to 80 percent mark. Iceland, Singapore and the United Arab Emirates are all at 75 percent of their total population fully vaccinated.
At the other end of the spectrum several dozen countries are yet to even reach one percent of their population fully vaccinated. Haiti, Yemen, Democratic Republic of Congo and Chad are the least vaccinated countries in the world with less than 0.01 percent of people fully vaccinated.
Looking at a global map of vaccine distribution, it is clear access to COVID-19 vaccines has not been equitable. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the WHO, has been lambasting wealthy countries for hoarding initial vaccine supplies, and for beginning to roll out third-dose booster programs when many countries are still struggling to get initial doses.
In a recent speech to the African WHO Committee, the Director-General particularly noted a “shocking disparity” in vaccine access for African countries.
“Just 87 million doses have been administered in the African region – less than 2 percent of the global total,” the Director-General noted. “Globally, 140 countries have vaccinated at least 10 percent of their populations, but in our continent, only four countries have been able to reach that target, owing to the shocking disparity in access to vaccines.”
Administering five billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines in inarguably an incredible achievement. A year ago only the most optimistic experts would have predicted reaching this benchmark by mid-2021.
But, as the pandemic continues to evolve, and new variants of SARS-CoV-2 arise, where the next five billion doses go could determine the future of this crisis. Children under 12, fully vaccinated adults looking for boosters, and low-income countries chasing first doses are all vying for crucial vaccine supplies.
Source: Our World in Data