While it's not clear who received the one billionth dose, or where, the milestone alone is remarkable. But, with Bloomberg reporting that the world is dispensing Covid-19 vaccines at a pace of 18.5 million doses per day, it looks likely to take 19 months before even 75 per cent of the world is vaccinated. And, further to that, the geographic victories in the fight against Covid-19 are tilted toward rich countries.
In India, where new daily cases have set a new worldwide record, just 1.4 per cent of the population has been fully vaccinated, The Washington Post reported. In the US, however, 25 per cent of adults are fully vaccinated and more than 40 per cent have received at least one dose. Criticism of the US and the UK has accelerated in recent days, as world leaders question why these countries are not sharing what appears to be an abundance of the Covid vaccine.
Biden is urged to release excess vaccines
US representative Raja Krishnamoorthi has urged the Biden administration to release excess vaccines: "We are currently sitting on close to 40 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine in the US stockpile, a stockpile that we're not using and which we've already opened to combat Covid-19 in Mexico and Canada.”
Asked about the plan for sharing unused American vaccines with other countries, Biden was noncommittal. "We're in the process of doing that," he said on 21 April. "We've done a little bit of that already. We're looking at what is going to be done with some of the vaccines that we are not using. We're going to make sure they are safe to be sent. And we hope to be able to be of some help and value to countries around the world."
The importance of the equitable distribution of Covid vaccines has frequently been emphasised by the World Health Organization, which recently extended Covid-19’s status as a global healthcare emergency by an additional three months.