COVID Vaccines Have Mainly Been Distributed to High Income Countries, Leaving Low Income Countries Behind

Vials+labelled+%22COVID-19+Coronavirus+Vaccine%22+are+placed+on+dry+ice+in+this+illustration+taken%2C+December+4%2C+2020.+Picture+taken+December+4%2C+2020.+REUTERS%2FDado+Ruvic%2FIllustration

REUTERS

Vials labelled “COVID-19 Coronavirus Vaccine” are placed on dry ice in this illustration taken, December 4, 2020. Picture taken December 4, 2020. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration

Lucy McIntire

The World Health Organization has reported that just 25 vaccines have been administered in low-income countries. There is only a limited supply of vaccines available, and wealthier countries continue to buy the majority of the vaccines, having already vaccinated 39 million people.

There are several reasons that high-income countries have bought and administered most of the vaccines and administered most, and one of the largest problems is cost. The vaccines need to be stored in expensive freezers or refrigerators (Pfizer needs to be stored at -70°C), and doses are expensive to buy as well.

COVAX is an initiative that is backed by WHO to spread vaccines worldwide, especially to low-income countries. However, COVAX will likely not be able to vaccinate enough people fast enough. The aim is to have 2 billion doses supplied by the end of 2021, and if that occurs, that will still not be enough.

Africa is home to 1.3 billion people, and COVAX has stated it will provide the continent with 300,000 vaccines, only enough for 20% of the population.

Many countries that are high-income have begun buying directly from the vaccine manufacturers, leaving less left for low and middle-income countries. However, other vaccines made in China, Russia, and India are more avalible, and have been sold directly to some middle-income countries.

These vaccines could potentially aid in getting everyone vaccinated faster, but WHO has yet to approve most.