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Expand chart
Data: Our World in Data; Chart: Danielle Alberti/Axios

The world reached a vaccination milestone this week, with 2 billion total doses now administered, according to the tracker from Our World in Data.

Why it matters: The global rate is speeding up considerably. It took 30 days to go from 500 million doses to 1 billion, 24 days to go from 1 billion to 1.5 billion, and just 16 days to jump from 1.5 billion to 2 billion.

  • But the vast majority of those vaccinations are still coming in the countries or regions that are either producing vaccines at scale (China, India, U.S., EU) or could afford to buy their way to the front of the line.

Breaking it down: High-income countries (as defined by the World Bank) are generally far ahead of the pack, with a combined 16% of the world's population but 38% of all vaccinations.

  • But even among the wealthy, progress is uneven. 58% of Brits have had at least one dose, for example, versus just 13% of South Koreans and 9% in Japan.
  • Meanwhile, low-income countries are almost all struggling, with 9% of the world's population but 0.3% of vaccinations. Sub-Saharan Africa is the furthest behind (see chart).

That gulf in supply has been exacerbated by the fact that the COVAX initiative — on which many low- and middle-income countries are relying — is running months behind schedule.

  • Efforts to expand manufacturing capacity, particularly in the developing world, could help close the gap over time. But for now, attention is falling on the rich countries that have purchased far more than they need.
  • President Biden will likely leverage the White House announcement today on dose sharing (see item 2) to lobby other rich countries to increase their pledges, including at the upcoming G7 summit.
  • The EU, for example, has promised to donate 100 million doses by the end of the year, but has offered little in the short term.

What to watch: Some low-income countries like the Democratic Republic of the Congo — which recently returned 1.3 million doses that were at risk of expiring — have struggled to administer the few doses they have obtained.

  • The challenges include training and deploying health workers, transporting vaccines where they're needed — door to door if necessary — and communicating effectively about the benefits of vaccination.
  • As access to vaccines finally starts to increase in the developing world, more global attention and resources will have to be committed to the delivery phase. The World Bank has started funding some of those efforts.

Worth noting: China has nearly tripled its daily vaccination rate over the past month, according to Our World in Data, and it's now giving more shots per day (19.7 million) than all but 14 other countries have over the entirety of the pandemic.

Go deeper

Jun 3, 2021 - Health

White House selects destinations for first wave of vaccine donations

President Biden at the White House on June 2. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

The Biden administration on Thursday laid out its framework for sharing vaccines for the world and named the recipients of the first 25 million doses, taking a major step toward becoming a global vaccine supplier.

Why it matters: The U.S. had until recently been the only major vaccine producer to keep virtually its entire supply at home, while countries looked to Russia or China for doses. But Biden has pledged to share at least 80 million doses this month and additional shipments beyond that.

COVID-19 cases hit lowest point in U.S. since pandemic began

Expand chart
Data: The COVID Tracking Project, CSSE Johns Hopkins University, state health departments; Map: Andrew Witherspoon, Michelle McGhee/Axios

The U.S. has brought new coronavirus infections down to the lowest level since March 2020, when the pandemic began.

The big picture: Nearly every week for the past 56 weeks, Axios has tracked the change — more often than not, the increase — in new COVID-19 infections. Those case counts are now so low, the virus is so well contained, that this will be our final weekly map.

Updated 4 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

  1. Health: The disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on young Hispanic Americans — Emergency room visits of all kinds dropped amid the pandemic — NY smart-thermometer network could predict next COVID wave.
  2. Vaccines: Vermont becomes first state to reach 80% vaccine thresholdNovavax says COVID-19 vaccine was 90% effective in Phase 3 trial — FDA clears 10 million J&J vaccine doses from contaminated Baltimore plant.
  3. Politics: U.S. to buy 500 million Pfizer doses to share with the world — State Department eases travel advisories for dozens of countries.
  4. Cities: New York City to host ticker tape parade for essential workers
  5. World: The G7's billion-dose pledge, heralded by Biden, doesn't add up — Boris Johnson extends England's COVID restrictions to curb variant spreadMoscow orders new restrictions amid surge in COVID-19 cases.
  6. 🎧 Podcast: Back to normal without herd immunity.
  7. Variant tracker: Where different strains are spreading.