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Booster Shots for Rich as Poor Nations Scramble for Jabs: A Look at the Global Vaccine Map as Delta Threat Looms

Villagers wait to receive a dose of COVISHIELD vaccine, a coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine manufactured by Serum Institute of India, during "Vaccination on boat" programme in Gosaba Island in the eastern state of West Bengal, India. (Reuters)

Villagers wait to receive a dose of COVISHIELD vaccine, a coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine manufactured by Serum Institute of India, during "Vaccination on boat" programme in Gosaba Island in the eastern state of West Bengal, India. (Reuters)

While the UK and the US hailed 70% of adults receiving at least one dose. In stark contrast, less than 4% of people in Africa have been partially vaccinated.

As the highly transmissible and deadly Delta variant deepens the Covid-19 crisis, wealthy nations are tightening their grip on vaccine arsenals, while lower-income countries are struggling with overwhelmed health infrastructure.

Teetering on the edge of the new wave of coronavirus infections, countries are providing monetary incentives and mandates to convince vaccine holdouts to get off the fence. Meanwhile, around the world, hundreds of millions of people are still waiting to receive their first dose of a coronavirus vaccine and the prospect of widespread immunity feels like a pipe dream, rich countries are building momentum to dole out booster shots for vulnerable groups.

Dozens of developing countries now have advanced their inoculation drive to protect their people and get their economies back up and running. And many jabbed their vulnerable population with at least one dose, raising hopes that the pandemic’s worst effects may be over.

Which countries have inoculated most of their population?

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More than 4.4 billion vaccine doses have been administered worldwide, equal to 57 doses for every 100 people. There is already a stark gap between vaccination programs in different countries, reported The New York Times.

UAE has vaccinated the maximum number of people with single dose- 81% of its eligible population, followed by Malta- 80%, Iceland- 76%, Singapore- 76%, Uruguay- 75%, Qatar- 75%, Chile- 73%, Canada- 72%, Spain- 70%, Portugal- 70%, United Kingdom- 70% and the United States- 58%.

The data is compiled from government sources by the Our World in Data project at the University of Oxford.

Who is a vaccinated person? A vaccinated person refers to someone who has received at least one dose of a vaccine, and a fully vaccinated person has received all required doses of a vaccine. A person who is “fully vaccinated” has received two doses.

Is the world inoculating fast enough?

Since the Covid-19 vaccine was first launched in 2020, hundreds of millions of vaccine doses have been administered worldwide. In 2021, several developed and developing countries began to ramp up their inoculation programs.

Countries like Israel, the US, and the UK with aggressive vaccination plans have begun to reap benefits with lesser death rates and hospitalisations as the population is building immunity against the virus.

Here is the number of vaccine doses per 100 people in each country till July 30- UAE- 172.26, Seychelles, 143.82, Iceland- 139.84, Israel- 133.88, Singapore- 133.86, Canada- 133.27, Spain- 125.21, US- 104.59, United Kingdom -126.7 and India- 36.3.

Are Vaccines for the Rich?

As shown above, developed or high-income countries have administered nearly 100 doses for every 100 people, according to WHO, while low-income countries have only been able to administer 1.5 shots for every 100 people, due to a lack of supplies.

“We need an urgent reversal, from the majority of vaccines going to high-income countries, to the majority going to low-income countries," WHO Director Tedros said, calling on leaders from the Group of 20, which includes the US and EU, to do more to improve access globally.

While the UK and the US hailed 70% of adults receiving at least one dose. In stark contrast, less than 4% of people in Africa have been partially vaccinated — about 50 million people of a population of over 1.3 billion. Amid massive drought of vaccine supplies, last month the deaths across the continent leaped by 80%.

Meanwhile, WHO and other public health agencies argue that no one is safe until everyone is safe because the longer the coronavirus circulates unchecked, the greater the chance becomes of new variants emerging. Experts told CNN, prioritizing booster shots over ending global transmission would put everyone, including people in high-income countries, in a more dangerous position. “If countries like Germany, like the US, like the UK choose to roll out booster shots before we have ensured that all communities worldwide have access to the first two doses of the vaccine, we’re not really solving the problem," they said.

Are Countries Vaccinating Minors Against Covid-19?

Several countries have opened up vaccinations to all over-12-year-olds and have already hit first-jab rates of 40% or more, while others are still getting the final nod. Countries like France, Spain, Italy, The Netherlands, Sweden, Germany, United States are inoculating their teens against the deadly virus.

France began offering vaccinations to all over-12s on June 15 and Italy began in late May. In the US, about 40% of 12 to 17-year-olds have had at least one vaccine dose, The Guardian reported. The Centers for Disease Control continues to recommend all over-12s be vaccinated.

The Indian government on July 17 told the Delhi high court that Covid-19 vaccines for children below the age of 18 years will be available “in the near future” as the clinical trials are on the verge of completion. Zydus Cadila, which is developing DNA vaccines for Covid-19, has concluded its clinical trial for children between the ages of 12 and 18 years of age and is awaiting statutory permission.

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first published:August 08, 2021, 12:01 IST