Rich Countries Already Hoarded Half Of COVID-19 Vaccine Supply, They Account For Only 13% Of The World Population

Aadhya Khatri - Dec 03, 2020


Rich Countries Already Hoarded Half Of COVID-19 Vaccine Supply, They Account For Only 13% Of The World Population

Five developed nations and 27 member countries of the EU have pre-ordered approximately half of the COVID-19 vaccine capacity

Vaccine developers all over the world have reported positive phase III trial results against the COVID-19 pandemic. They estimated that by the end of 2021, they would be able to provide vaccine doses for one-third of the world population. However, citizens of countries with a lower income might have to wait until 2023 or even 2024 for their doses of vaccine, according to a study from Duke Global Health Innovation Center.

According to Rasmus Bech Hansen- founder and CEO of London-based life-sciences market analytics company Airfinity, manufacturers have already reduced their short-term production estimates but three of the most prominent vaccine makers, Moderna, AstraZeneca, and Pfizer, report an estimated total capacity of 5.3 billion doses next year, which is sufficient for 2.6 billion to 3.1 billion people, depending on whether the vaccine developed by AstraZeneca will be given in two or one and a half doses.

AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine
The most prominent vaccine makers, Moderna, AstraZeneca, and Pfizer, report an estimated total capacity of 5.3 billion doses next year, which is sufficient for 2.6 billion to 3.1 billion people

As stated by Russia Direct Investment Fund, the organization supporting the vaccine development of the Gamaleya National Center of Epidemiology and Microbiology, the center can cover around 500 million people outside of Russia each year from 2021. However, it doesn’t elaborate on the capacity within the country.

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As the COVID-19 pandemic is getting most of the attention right now, the majority of this vaccine capacity has already been ordered. Five developed nations and 27 member countries of the EU have pre-ordered approximately half of the vaccine. Their contracts also have terms for ordering extra doses. These countries’ citizens make up around 13% of the world’s population.

EU covid-19
Five developed nations and 27 member countries of the EU have pre-ordered approximately half of the vaccine

According to the calculation of Airfinity, if we include six other prominent vaccine makers into the picture, the total number of doses increase to 7.4 billion, with ongoing negotiations or expansion options make up for 2.9 billion does. Even when we include six other vaccine-making candidates, the EU, and five other wealthy countries still secure more than half of the capacity.

Canada is the leading country with vaccine deals per capita with almost nine doses for each citizen. According to Andrea Taylor of Duke, the North American country has done exactly what they expect a wealthy nation such as it would do.

Canada covid-19
Canada is the leading country with vaccine deals per capita with almost nine doses for each citizen

However, the good news for Canadians does mean the same thing for other countries. The figure suggests that COVID-19 vaccines won’t be distributed equally. When the world is seeing optimistic results in vaccine development, it’s quite scary thinking that there are so many countries that are missing.

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Where the first shipment of vaccine goes will also be determined by local manufacturing deals, according to Rasmus Bech Hansen. For example, India has had over 2 billion doses, partly because it has leveraged its access to the world’s biggest vaccine maker - the Pune-based Serum Institute of India.

Serum Institute of India
India has had over 2 billion doses, partly because it has leveraged its access to the world’s biggest vaccine maker - the Pune-based Serum Institute of India

This situation means lower-income countries will have to face dwindling supply in the short run. It seems like the majority of these countries will have to put their faith in COVAX – a joint fund dedicated to global equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines co-led by WHO, the Oslo-based Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, and Gavi, a Switzerland-based vaccine funder for low-income countries.

So far, COVAX has had 700 million doses of vaccine and it plans to offer 2 billion doses for participating nations by the end of next year, which translates to around 20% of these countries’ population.

COVAX
So far, COVAX has had 700 million doses of vaccine and it plans to offer 2 billion doses for participating nations by the end of next year

Over 189 nations have joined COVAX, among them are well-to-do nations that participate to subsidize access to the COVID-19 vaccine.

According to Taylor, while wealthy nations might have to make sure they meet their own demands before thinking of passing on excess doses to other countries, plus, this isn’t how COVAX works, she thinks countries that have secured their own vaccine might donate part of their stash to COVAX.

Vaccine prices vary and different makers might set a different price tag for their products. UK-based AstraZeneca said its product would be priced at $3 to $4 for a dose, which is up to ten times cheaper than the asking price of some other candidates, including Pfizer and Moderna.

Astrazeneca 1
UK-based AstraZeneca said its product would be priced at $3 to $4 for a dose

AstraZeneca pledged to offer their vaccine on a non-profit basis during the pandemic and in perpetuity for middle- and low-income nations. No other vaccine maker has made the same promise.

>>> Moderna Vaccine Can 100% Prevent Severe Cases Of COVID-19

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