WHO says more than 87% of the world’s Covid vaccine supply has gone to higher-income countries

The elderly people wait in line to receive a dose of Sinovac’s CoronaVac coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine, during a vaccination day for 67-year-old citizens, in Brasilia, Brazil March 29, 2021.

Ueslei Marcelino | Reuters

Wealthy countries have received the vast majority of the world’s supply of Covid-19 vaccine doses, while poor countries have received less than 1%, the World Health Organization said at a press briefing Friday.

Of the 700 million vaccine doses that have been distributed across the globe, “over 87% have gone to high-income or upper- and middle-income countries, while low-income countries have received just 0.2%,” said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

On average, 1 in 4 people in high-income countries have received a coronavirus vaccine, compared with just 1 in more than 500 in low-income countries, according to Tedros.

“There remains a shocking imbalance in the global distribution of vaccines,” Tedros said.

Tedros said that there is a shortage of Covid-19 vaccine doses for COVAX, a global alliance aiming to provide poor nations with coronavirus vaccines.

“We understand that some countries and companies plan to do their own bilateral vaccine donations, bypassing COVAX for their own political or commercial reasons,” Tedros said. “These bilateral arrangements run the risk of fanning the flames of vaccine inequity.”

Tedros said COVAX partners — including WHO, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovation and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance — are pursuing strategies to accelerate production and supply.

The alliance is seeking donations from countries with surplus vaccine supply, expediting review of more vaccines and discussing ways to expand global manufacturing capacity with several countries, Tedros and Gavi CEO Dr. Seth Berkley said.

(With inputs from CNBC)