big milestone, big gap
Over ten billion vaccine doses have now been administered globally, representing a new milestone in the fight against the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, The New York Times reports.
That said, however, the achievement does not arrive without its shortcomings; though "10 billion doses could theoretically have meant at least one shot for all of the world's 7.9 billion people," distribution has, in reality, meant anything but, notes the Times.
In wealthy countries, 77 percent of people have received at least one dose of the COVID vaccine, versus less than 10 percent in low-income countries. Even as the U.S. and parts of Europe build out their booster campaigns to fight the Omicron variant, "more than one-third of the world's people, many of them in Africa and poor pockets of Asia, are still waiting for a first dose."
"Ten billion doses is a triumph of science but a complete failure of global solidarity," Madhukar Pai, a professor of epidemiology at McGill University, told the Times.
For example, the U.S. has administered "five times as many extra shots — about 85 million — as the total number of doses administered in all of Nigeria, Africa's most populous nation."
Despite the World Health Organization's global sharing initiative, Covax, disparities remain — perhaps at least in part because rich countries have not agreed to waive IP restrictions, or pressured drug companies to "share their technology so that poorer nations can manufacture doses locally," per the Times.
"We have learned through this pandemic that charity does not work in global health, and charity is not the same as justice," Pai added. "And that is what countries are looking for — a just approach to be able to save themselves."