Vaccine disparity remains wide despite efforts against virus, WHO says

Patrick Meinhardt/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Photo by Patrick Meinhardt/Bloomberg via Getty Images

With more than 3.8 billion COVID-19 doses administered to-date, the world continues to see a stark disparity in vaccination, as lower-income countries struggle to inoculate their populations while higher-income nations now give fourth or even fifth doses.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), only 16 percent of people in low-income countries have received a single vaccine dose – compared to 80 percent in high-income countries.

The number of countries with coverage of under 10 percent of the population stands at 18, which points to a huge disparity in vaccine administration.

A statement by the WHO on Friday called on the world to close this gap to ensure a synchronized fight against the virus.

The agency noted that COVAX, the vaccine-sharing facility, is now well equipped to support lower-income countries vaccinate their populations.

The agency noted that COVAX has access to more than enough doses needed to enable 91 lower-income countries that are supported by the COVAX Advance Market Commitment (AMC) – which provides donor-funded doses of a wide variety of COVID-19 vaccines – to meet their targets in light of the WHO global target of protecting 70 percent of the population in each country.

“COVAX is also well-placed to deliver these doses so they reach those in need,” it said in a statement.

“The onus now is on building on this foundation to help countries to fully protect high risk groups, meet  national vaccination targets, and close the global COVID-19 vaccine equity gap for good. However, hurdles now remain: demand and uptake are low, with low-income countries remaining the furthest behind,” it added.

So far, the number of COVID-19 infections reported globally has surpassed 524 million, with a death toll exceeding 6.2 million.