Mar 11, 2021 - Health

Most developing countries still haven't administered a single vaccine dose

Illustration of a vaccine bottle with a picture of the Earth on its label.

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Wealthy nations — including the U.S., the U.K. and the EU — have vaccinated their citizens at a rate of one person per second over the last month, while most developing countries still haven't administered a single shot, according to the People's Vaccine Alliance.

Why it matters: As higher-income countries aim to achieve herd immunity in a matter of months, most of the world's vulnerable people will remain unprotected.

  • Experts say that mutations that may arise while the virus spreads could be a danger to us all, vaccinated or not.

The big picture: Even though more vaccines will arrive in developing nations soon, only 3% of people in those countries are likely to be vaccinated by mid-2021.

  • At best, only a fifth of their population will be vaccinated by the end of the year, per the People's Vaccine Alliance.

What we're watching: Three dozen countries have bought several times the amount of vaccine that they'll need to vaccinate their entire population.

  • The U.S. alone has ordered more than a billion extra doses, Science Magazine reports. Global health leaders are saying it's time to figure out where all of these excess doses will go.
  • "Over the next year or two, U.S. surplus doses and those from other countries could add up to enough to immunize everyone in the many poorer nations that lack any secured COVID-19 vaccine," Science writes.
Go deeper