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Lopsided distribution: Wealthy countries getting vaccinated 25 times faster

In other words, countries with the highest incomes are vaccinating 25 times faster than those with the lowest

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Coronavirus | Coronavirus Vaccine | Coronavirus Tests

Tom Randall | Bloomberg 

Pfizer Vaccine, Coronavirus vaccine
The U.S. is on track to cover 75% of its residents in the next three months. Photo: Shutterstock

Enough vaccines have now been administered to fully vaccinate about 5% of the global population — but the distribution has been lopsided. Most vaccines are going to the wealthiest countries.

As of Thursday, 40% of the Covid-19 vaccines administered globally have gone to people in 27 wealthy nations that represent 11% of the global population. Countries making up the least-wealthy 11% have gotten just 1.6% of Covid-19 vaccines administered so far, according to an analysis of data collected by the Bloomberg Vaccine Tracker.

In other words, countries with the highest incomes are vaccinating 25 times faster than those with the lowest.

Bloomberg’s database of Covid-19 vaccinations has tracked more than 726 million doses administered in 154 countries. As part of our effort to assess vaccine access around the world, the tracker has a new interactive tool measuring countries by wealth, population and access to vaccines.

The U.S., for example, has 24% of the world’s vaccinations but just 4.3% of the population, while Pakistan has 0.1% of the vaccine coverage for 2.7% of the global population. The pattern is repeated across the globe and follows efforts by wealthy countries to pre-purchase billions of doses of vaccines, enough to cover their populations several times over, according to a separate analysis of vaccine deals.

The U.S. is on track to cover 75% of its residents in the next three months. Meanwhile, nearly half of countries still haven’t reached 1% of their populations. The disparity calculations don’t include more than 40 countries, mostly among the world’s poorest, that don’t yet have public vaccination data. Those uncharted countries represent almost 8% of the global population.

chart

In the U.S., the federal government determines where vaccines are sent. So far, each state has been allocated vaccines based on its population size. While there are differences in access from neighborhood to neighborhood, each state has a fair share roughly proportional to its number of residents.

A World of Difference

There’s no mechanism to ensure equitable distribution worldwide. If all of the world’s vaccines were distributed based on population, the U.S. would have administered nearly six times its fair share. The U.K. would have used up 7 times its population-weighted allotment (outpacing the EU’s double-share). Topping the list are the UAE and Israel, with nine and 12 times their population-based share, respectively.

China has vaccinated its people at a rate that’s roughly in line with the global average — administering 20% of the world’s vaccinations for 18% of the global population. It has also exported vaccines to less wealthy countries, sometimes at no cost.

The world’s least wealthy continent, Africa, is also the least vaccinated. Of its 54 countries, only three have have inoculated more than 1% of their populations. More than 20 countries aren’t even on the board yet.

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First Published: Fri, April 09 2021. 10:41 IST
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