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Vaccine Equity in the World

Updated: Jul 5, 2021

Since the first vaccines for COVID-19 were authorized for use in various countries in December 2020 and January 2021, a mass vaccination campaign has started all over the world. Six months later, when we look at the balance, we see that some countries are starting to really feel the benefits of it. But many countries lag behind.

What is the current status in the world?

Record numbers of vaccines are being given every day, in the last week of May worldwide 39 million vaccines given per day. But the discrepancies between countries are massive. The map below shows the situation on June 11, 2021

North America has the highest continent percentage (39.5%), which is largely due to the USA (51.7%) and Canada (64.1%), while Mexico lags behind at 19.8% and Central American countries like Guatemala only have 2.9% of their population vaccinated.

Europe takes the second spot for continents with 35.4% vaccinated, with a relatively even distribution of vaccinations, except for outliers the UK (60.5%), Israel (63.3%), and Hungary (55%). In South America and Asia the differences between countries are very high, with overall rates for South America at 22.3% and Asia at 7.2%. Africa scores lowest with only 2.2% of the population vaccinated.

Planning to get the world vaccinated


Early on in the pandemic, people realized that the only way out of this crisis was to get everyone in the world vaccinated. Vaccines needed to be developed and these vaccines should then be distributed over the world to reach the entire global population. With over 7.8 billion people in the world, and most developed vaccines requiring two doses, there is a need of up to 15.6 billion vaccines.

Recognizing this issue, COVAX (COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access), was initiated. It is part of a larger project that is called Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator, which was launched in April 2020 by the World Health Organization (WHO), the European Commission, and France. The project brings together governments, organizations, scientists, and vaccine manufacturers, all to ensure that there is equitable access to diagnostics, treatments, and vaccines during this crisis. Various governments have invested money and have pledged to donate doses to the COVAX program.

COVAX supports the development of vaccines, and negotiates their price with manufacturers. The goal for COVAX is that all countries that participate will have equal access to the vaccines developed with help from COVAX support. The first aim for COVAX was to have 2 billion doses available by the end of 2021. The idea was that this could cover 20% of the population of each participating country, so that the most vulnerable people (health care workers) and high risk people (elderly, chronically ill) could be vaccinated.

Obviously, a lot of money is needed to reach this goal. Vaccines need to be produced, packaged, and distributed over the world. In each country, the vaccines need to be spread to all locations, some very remote, and everywhere you need to have trained professionals to give people the vaccines. You need needles and syringes and some of the vaccines need to be kept at very cold temperatures during transport and storage. It is a massive project to allow everyone to get fully vaccinated.

Ending this pandemic

A pandemic is a global event and it will not end until vaccines are used everywhere and the virus has less chance of spreading. The continued spread of the virus has led to new virus variants, which we can see in various parts of the world. In many countries that have low rates of vaccination, the number of COVID-19 cases keeps rising. In this situation, it is inevitable that more variants arise, and there is always a possibility that vaccines are less effective against them. Therefore, the pandemic will not end until the majority of people all over the world are vaccinated and the spread of the virus is stopped.

Would you like to contribute to fighting vaccine inequity?

*Please note that SAFN is not connected to any of these organizations, nor has any financial relationship with them. SAFN’s goal is to inform people about COVID-19 vaccines and we support the wide use of vaccines in all regions of the world.

If you would like to donate to the COVAX project you can do that by supporting UNICEF, the distribution partner of COVAX, or by donating to the COVID-19 vaccine branch of Gavi, the vaccine alliance: For Unicef: For Gavi: (under donate to gavi you can find how to donate in various currencies)

Contributed by: Text: Maartje Wouters

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