Just 10 countries account for three quarters of the 191 million COVID-19 vaccinations given through mid-February, a sign that the race to vaccinate the world is hardly on even footing.
And if wealthy nations don’t act quickly to ensure a more equitable allocation of vaccines, it’s a race everyone could lose, says Gavin Yamey, a global health expert.
“There’s a mantra in global health that an outbreak anywhere could lead to an outbreak everywhere, and that’s why it’s in our interest collectively as an international community to start sharing doses (and) to make sure we expand the global vaccine supply,” Yamey says.
Global health organizations hoped to avoid vaccine hoarding by encouraging countries to purchase vaccines through COVAX, a global alliance established to share vaccine doses with poorer countries. But while nearly 190 countries have joined COVAX, about three dozen high-income countries also negotiated direct deals with vaccine manufacturers to secure doses for their own citizens.
Through these contracts, a handful of countries representing just 16% of the world’s population have snapped up more than half of the available COVID-19 vaccines.
Same as it ever was. The quest for scarce goods ain’t leading to equitable distribution or even an opportunity to purchase…until Uncle Sugar and the [comparatively] rich guys get theirs, first.