COVID-19: Low income countries have given half as many total doses as booster jabs given in rich nations
A year since the first COVID-19 vaccines were administered, many parts of the world remain perilously unprotected.
The spread of the Omicron variant of coronavirus has meant that many countries are ramping up their booster campaigns.
The increase has been so fast that Sky News analysis has found that the number of booster jabs given per person in wealthy nations is twice that of the total number of all COVID vaccine doses administered in low-income countries.
If you look at the actual number of doses administered in high income countries compared to low income countries, the difference is even more stark.
The above chart shows the actual number of doses. If we work it out as a proportion of their population, wealthy nations have administered more than 17 times the amount of vaccines as poor countries.
The World Health Organisation-backed COVAX programme was created to address this issue early in the pandemic. The programme was meant to ensure access to jabs for low and middle-income countries and distribute two billion doses by the end of the year.
But public health experts have said that the decision by wealthy nations to secure enough doses to cover their entire population multiple times has meant that COVAX has fallen far short of its target.
Around 610 million doses had been delivered to 151 countries by 6 December through the vaccine sharing facility, according to UNICEF data.
This has left many countries without access to vaccines as they were solely reliant on COVAX for supplies.
Four out of five doses for COVID-19 have been delivered through deals between nations or vaccine makers, according to an analysis of data from global health analytics firm Airfinity.
COVAX amounted to just 13.8% while donations accounted for 6.6% of all doses delivered to date.
The data also showed that nearly half of all low-income nations rely entirely on COVAX and donations for their vaccine supply.
All but four high-income nations had already taken delivery of enough vaccines to cover their entire population with at least a single dose. Some nations such as the UK and US, have already acquired enough doses to cover the whole population more than twice.
As of early December, no low-income nation had received enough doses to cover its entire population with at least one dose. In fact, 10 poor countries had received enough doses to cover just 5.5% of their total population on average.
The UK government said it had given nearly 20 million doses to COVAX and an additional 4.6 million doses delivered directly to other countries.
A Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office spokesperson said: “Since the beginning of the pandemic, the UK has been at the forefront of efforts to ensure equitable vaccine access around the world.
“Our aid funding of £548m helped to establish the COVAX Advanced Market Commitment and is now helping to distribute at least 1.8 billion COVID-19 vaccines to low and middle-income countries by early 2022.”
Dr Tedros Adhanom, director-general of WHO, welcomed vaccines donated from wealthy nations but complained that poor countries were receiving doses close to expiry too often.
He said: “More than two-thirds of donations are of vaccines with less than three months’ shelf-life remaining.
“This hampers countries’ ability to plan, to deploy domestic resources, and to mobilise populations and community leaders.
“Yes, we need accountability for how doses are used, but we also need accountability for how doses are donated.”
Pharmaceutical companies have also blamed the lack of infrastructure for vaccine distribution, such as a cold supply chain, and the high proportion of vaccine hesitancy in low-income nations.
“Now we have a situation where a lot of countries, in Africa for example, they’re asking us to stop sending any more because they can’t process it,” said Dr Albert Bourla, chief executive of the vaccine maker Pfizer.
He added: “This is where we could have done better. I could have foreseen and have asked ourselves to partner earlier with NGOs on the ground to start running educational campaigns, to start trying to create infrastructure.”
South Africa last week asked two vaccine suppliers, Johnson & Johnson and Pfizer, to delay the delivery of doses because it had too many in stock. Namibia had previously warned that more than 250,000 doses of vaccines were at risk of being destroyed due to slow uptake.
Since the pandemic began, investments in manufacturing in Africa are expected to increase the vaccine availability to a large number of low-income and lower-middle income nations in the coming months.
US-based pharmaceutical giant Moderna announced plans to build a $500m facility to produce 500 million vaccines per year. Similarly, BioNTech struck an agreement with Rwanda and Senegal to make a similar number of vaccines per year.
According to estimates from the investment bank UBS, existing vaccine producers are on track to produce 27 billion vaccine doses next year.
This would be enough to triple vaccinate the entire global population, including the poorest countries. But distribution and uptake of those doses remain to be seen.
Analysis was based on the data provided on 195 countries tracked by global health analytics firm Airfinity.
The analysis included 72 out of 80 high-income countries and 25 out of 27 low-income nations classified by the World Bank.
The latest vaccination data for each country from OurWorldInData was used for the analysis.
Venezuela was excluded from the analysis as no income classification was available. However, the country has received 42.6m doses through COVAX or direct deals.
North Korea, Micronesia, Turkmenistan, Nauru, Tuvalu and Monaco were excluded as vaccine data was either unavailable or not available in a suitable format.
The Data and Forensics team is a multi-skilled unit dedicated to providing transparent journalism from Sky News. We gather, analyse and visualise data to tell data-driven stories. We combine traditional reporting skills with advanced analysis of satellite images, social media and other open source information. Through multimedia storytelling we aim to better explain the world while also showing how our journalism is done.
Why data journalism matters to Sky News
Source: Read Full Article