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The U.S. Promised 1.1 Billion Covid-19 Vaccine Doses To Poorer Countries. Here’s Where They Are Going.

By News Creatives Authors , in Business , at October 22, 2021


The U.S. has promised to donate 1.1 billion doses of Covid-19 vaccine to poorer countries by the end of 2022, part of President Biden’s goal to vaccinate the world as wealthy countries come under heavy fire for hoarding supplies and rolling out booster shots,  and here’s where they are going.

Key Facts

The top five recipients are the Philippines (16.4 million), Pakistan (15.8 million), Bangladesh (11.5 million), Indonesia (9.9 million) and Vietnam (8.5 million), according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, followed closely by Mexico (8.2 million), South Africa (7.9 million) and Nigeria (7.6 million).

Some 58% of U.S. donations have been delivered through the World Health Organization-led Covax vaccine sharing initiative, according to Kaiser, with 42% donated directly to countries. 

The majority of donated doses are mRNA shots made by Pfizer and BioNTech (43%) or Moderna (35%), with Johnson & Johnson (16%) and AstraZeneca (1%) jabs making up the remainder (5% are listed “unknown”).

Donation deliveries have been steadily ramping up since July—when 83.9 million were delivered, more than the following three months together—with 21.6 million delivered in August, 30.1 million in September and 31.4 million in October so far.  

Most doses have gone to lower middle income countries (113.3 million), as classified by the World Bank, according to Kaiser, with 45.5 million shipped to upper middle income countries and 16 million to low income countries.

Surprising Fact

As of October 22, the U.S. has donated 5.5 million doses to countries the World Bank classifies as high income, according to Kaiser. A recent report by the People’s Vaccine Alliance, an activist group comprising organizations including Amnesty International, Oxfam and UNAIDS, revealed that wealthy G7 countries and Europe had donated 10 million vaccine doses directly to other high-income countries. Both the U.K. and Canada also received doses from the Covax initiative, around 500,000 and 1 million, respectively.    

Big Number 

15 million. That’s at least how many doses of Covid-19 vaccine the U.S. has thrown away, according to CDC data between March and September. 

Key Background

While enough doses have been administered to fully vaccinate almost half the global population, the vast majority have been used by a handful of the world’s richest countries. Many of these countries, the U.S. included, have vaccinated low risk groups and are now rolling out booster campaigns as poorer nations still struggle to immunize a fraction of their population. Just 5% of Africa is fully vaccinated against Covid-19. Beyond fairness, experts believe the uneven distribution could prolong the pandemic for everyone and allow more dangerous virus variants to evolve. The Covax vaccine sharing initiative is hundreds of millions of vaccines short of its goal and has been mired in difficulties amid funding issues, trouble accessing vaccines and the reluctance of wealthy countries to share supplies. Western pharmaceutical companies have delivered a fraction—12%—of doses they pledged to sell to the initiative and wealthy nations have delivered just 14% of doses promised to poorer nations between the end of 2021 and 2022. 

Further Reading

Wealthy Countries Delivered Just 14% Of Covid Vaccine Doses Promised To Poorer Nations, Report Finds (Forbes)

Will New Covid Treatments Be as Elusive for Poor Countries as Vaccines? (NYT)

Next Africa: The Terrible Cost of Vaccine Inequality (Bloomberg)

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