As COVID-19 spreads across low- and middle-income countries, billions of people are vulnerable to variants that could resist vaccines and put the world back at square one in tackling this pandemic.
So why isn’t the vaccine already available to everyone, everywhere? It comes down to supply and distribution. Rich countries have bought up the majority of the supply and are hoarding even what they don’t need. Meanwhile, low- and middle-income countries are struggling to roll out the doses they do have.
The latest forecasts from Airfinity, a science information and analytics company, shows that nearly 600 million doses will be delivered to the United States between July and December 2021. This includes Pfizer, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson, and Novavax, once approved.
On average, about 9 million people are expected to become fully vaccinated each month between July and December 2021. These projections assume that the current rate of vaccination continues. This marks a significant drop in demand for COVID-19 vaccines in the US compared with April, when demand was at its peak and 3.4 million doses were administered in one day.
If current demand for vaccines remains constant, nearly 500 million vaccines will go unused and be stockpiled between July and December. This number excludes all the excess supply that may already be in the US, including the still unapproved AstraZeneca supply.
For every month that the US does not share its stockpile, it will have between 55 million (in July) and 110 million (in December) additional excess doses.
As the Delta variant spreads, and cases and deaths continue to surge around the world, the US must urgently commit to share more vaccines faster and pressure other wealthy countries to step up and do more. Right now, the US has purchased 650 million excess vaccine doses, almost half of which are AstraZeneca doses that are not approved for domestic use and would otherwise go unused.
For more on the health, economic, and social impacts of COVID-19 in Africa, check out ONE’s Africa COVID-19 Tracker. It pulls together the latest real-time data from global institutions, governments, and universities about the impacts of the pandemic for the continent and for every African country. For more insights and analysis, sign up for our Aftershocks newsletter and follow us @ONEAftershocks.