Wealthy countries have received the vast majority of the world’s supply of Covid-19 vaccine doses, while poor countries have received less than 1%, the World Health Organization said at a news conference on Friday.
Of the 700 million vaccine doses distributed worldwide, “over 87% went to high-income or high- and middle-income countries, while low-income countries received just 0.2%,” said WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
On average, 1 in 4 people in high-income countries have received a coronavirus vaccine, compared to just 1 in more than 500 in low-income countries, Tedros said.
“There is still a shocking imbalance in the global distribution of vaccines,” he said.
Tedros said there is a shortage of doses for COVAX, a global alliance that aims to provide coronavirus vaccines to poor nations.
“We understand that some countries and companies plan to make their own bilateral vaccine donations and bypass COVAX for their own political or commercial reasons,” said Tedros. “These bilateral agreements run the risk of igniting the flames of vaccine inequality.”
According to Tedros, COVAX partners – including the WHO, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance – are pursuing strategies to accelerate production and supply.
The alliance seeks donations from countries with an oversupply of vaccines, is accelerating the review of further vaccines and is discussing ways to expand global production capacity with several countries, said Tedros and Gavi CEO Dr. Seth Berkley.