More than five billion coronavirus jabs have been given around the world - but mostly in developed countries

  • Nearly 40 per cent of the vaccinations have been given in China alone
  • The Covax donation scheme means poor countries are finally able to begin vaccinating just as richer nations start giving booster shots
Agence France-Presse |

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Residents wait for a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine in Bangkok, Thailand, on Wednesday, August 25, 2021. Photo: AP

More than five billion Covid jabs have been given around the world, but wide disparities still exist between rich and poor countries when it comes to access to vaccines.

While many advanced countries are already giving booster shots, vaccination drives have more trouble getting off the ground in less-developed nations.

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Nearly 40 per cent (1.96 billion) of the five billion shots have been administered in China. India (589 million) and the United States (363 million) complete the trio of countries that have given the most jabs.

In terms of the percentage of the population protected in countries with more than one million people, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) leads the way. It has administered 179 doses per 100 inhabitants, meaning it has fully vaccinated nearly 75 per cent of its population.

Uruguay follows, with 154 per 100 inhabitants, then Israel and Qatar (149 each), Singapore (147), Bahrain (144), Denmark (143), Chile (140), Canada (139), Portugal and Belgium (138 each), China (136), Spain (134), Ireland (133) and the United Kingdom (132).

Most of these countries have fully vaccinated between 65 per cent and 70 per cent of their population.

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Some, like the UAE, Bahrain, Israel, Uruguay and Chile, have even started giving out booster shots.

While countries in Western Europe, North America and parts of the Middle East have advanced vaccination campaigns, they are inoculating less quickly than countries in Asia, Latin America and Oceania, which have recently picked up speed.

Most poor countries have now started to vaccinate, mainly thanks to the Covax scheme that donates vaccines to these nations, but the coverage remains very unequal.

A volunteer guides the drivers of auto rickshaws who arrived for their Covid-19 jabs during a free vaccination drive for drivers in Bangalore, India on August 25, 2021. Photo: AFP

High-income countries (as defined by the World Bank) administered an average of 111 doses per 100 inhabitants, compared with just 2.4 doses in low-income countries.

When it comes to the most vaccinated continents, Africa is lagging behind, averaging 6.5 doses per 100 inhabitants, 10 times less than the world average of 64.

Sub-Saharan Africa’s most populous countries - the Democratic Republic of Congo (0.1 doses per 100 inhabitants), Tanzania (0.4), Nigeria (1.9) and Ethiopia (2.0), are among the least vaccinated countries in the world.

Three countries have yet to start their vaccination drives: Burundi, Eritrea and North Korea.