Amid talk of boosters, global vaccine disparity gets sharper
Halfway around the world, at a church in Atlanta, two workers with plenty of vaccine doses waited hours last Wednesday for anyone to show up, whiling away the time by listening to music from a laptop. Over a six-hour period, only one person came through the door.
The dramatic contrast highlights the vast disparity around the world.
In richer countries, people can often pick and choose from multiple available vaccines, walk into a site near their homes and get a shot in minutes. Pop-up clinics, such as the one in Atlanta, bring vaccines into rural areas and urban neighborhoods, but it is common for them to get very few takers.
In the developing world, supply is limited and uncertain. Just over 3% of people across Africa have been fully vaccinated, and health officials and citizens often have little idea what will be available from one day to the next. More vaccines have been flowing in recent weeks, but the World Health Organisation’s director in Africa said Thursday that the continent will get 25% fewer doses than anticipated by the end of the year, in part because of the rollout of booster shots in wealthier counties such as the United States.
The disparity comes as the US is moving closer to offering booster shots to large segments of the population even as it struggles to persuade Americans to get vaccinated in the first place. President Joe Biden on Thursday ordered sweeping new federal vaccine requirements for 100 million Americans, including private-sector employees, as the country faces the surging covid-19 delta variant. About 53% of the US population is vaccinated, and the country is averaging more than 150,000 new cases of covid-19 a day, along with 1,500 deaths.
Africa has had more than 7.9 million confirmed cases, including more than 200,000 deaths, and the highly infectious delta variant recently drove a surge in new cases as well.
– ABC NEWS