In a positive report for the economic recovery of the United States following the Covid-19 Pandemic, the CDC states that 20 percent of Americans are fully vaccinated against Covid-19, and another third have received at least one dose of the vaccine. The CDC numbers, and those coming from agencies in the wealthiest nations in the world, stand in stark contrast to a WHO report indicating that the poorest nations have only received .2 percent of the global vaccine supply, with an average vaccination rate of 1 out of more than 500 people.
Of the total 700 million Covid-19 vaccinations that have been administered around the world, more than 87 percent have gone to high-income countries, leaving low-income countries with .2 percent, or just 1.4 million total doses. COVAX, a global entity fighting to get doses for low-income countries, is facing severe vaccine shortages despite the efforts of WHO, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovation, and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance. To respond to the shortages, the organizations are contacting nations with vaccine surpluses, like the United States, for donations and methods to expand the production of Covid-19 vaccines worldwide.
Organizations are pushing for fair vaccine distribution to prevent countries from recovering at different rates, leading to even greater wealth inequality in the future. Vaccine distribution is the most effective way to mitigate damage from Covid-19 and the fastest way to restore the global economy to pre-pandemic levels.
Due to the unequal rate of worldwide vaccine distribution, countries like the United States are on track to recover much faster than their low-income counterparts. On average, the United States is administering 3 million doses of the vaccine per day, helping to greatly decrease the number of deaths and hospitalizations as a result of the virus. According to data from John Hopkins University, approximately 978 people die from Covid-19 each week in the United States, while hospitalization rates have continued to decline steadily since the beginning of January.
Despite the decreasing number of deaths and hospitalizations, it remains to be seen how effective the vaccine is at decreasing the total number of daily cases. In the United States, approximately 66,000 new cases of Covid-19 are reported every day, down from the January peak of nearly 300,000 daily cases. While the rate does demonstrate a significant decline, the current numbers match last year’s data during the summer surge of cases. Many of the new cases in the United States include young people who were less-effected by the pandemic last year. The increase in cases despite increasing vaccination rates can be attributed to reopening schools and businesses in jurisdictions that are not adequately prepared to protect their residents.
With the economic growth and lowering death and hospitalization rates in the United States, poorer nations will need better access to vaccinations if they hope they recover quickly enough to avoid more severe economic fallout. It may be a while before vaccine distribution can expand, however, because of growing distrust around the Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca vaccines.