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20 July 2021

The poorest countries have received just 0.3 per cent of Covid-19 vaccine doses

The wealthiest countries in the world have received one hundred times as many vaccine doses as the poorest. 

By Aisha Majid

Less than 0.5 per cent of the 3.7 billion Covid-19 vaccine doses administered worldwide have been in the poorest countries, as wealthy economies dominate the procurement and administration of vaccines. In the 27 poorest countries in the world – where almost 7 per cent of the world’s over-15 population lives – 9.8 million Covid-19 jabs (0.3 per cent of worldwide doses) have been given.

Less than 0.5% of vaccine doses have been administered in the poorest countries
Share of Covid-19 vaccines doses administered by country income level (%)
For vaccines that require multiple doses, each individual dose is counted. As of 18 July 2021
Source: Our World in Data; World Bank

Vaccination rates are also lagging behind in nations which are poorer than average, but not among the very poorest. Countries considered by the World Bank to be lower-middle income have administered 17 per cent of doses, yet are home to 41 per cent of people aged over 15. 

In contrast, 1.1 billion doses (around 30 per cent of the global total) have been provided in the wealthiest countries, even though they account for just 18 per cent of the world’s over-15 population.  

Last month World Health Organisation head Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus warned that “inequitable vaccination is a threat to all nations, not just those with the fewest vaccines” as disparity in vaccination rates is allowing Covid-19 to spread and raises the chance of vaccine-resistant strains emerging. 

The UN has urged governments to send excess vaccine doses to Covax, which aims to distribute vaccines more equitably. To date, 135 million doses have been shipped through the programme to poorer nations. 

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To date, more than 4 million people have died from Covid-19. Global confirmed cases, which had been in decline since May, have recently started to rise again.