In Six Weeks Ahead of Christmas, Rich Nations Snagged More Vaccines Than Africa Got All Year
The United States, the United Kingdom, and European Union countries secured more coronavirus vaccine doses in a six-week period before Christmas than the entire continent of Africa received in all of 2021, striking inequity that campaigners say is protracting the deadly pandemic and creating conditions for more variants to emerge.
An analysis released Friday by the People's Vaccine Alliance showed that between November 11 and December 21, 2021, the E.U., U.K., and U.S. snagged 513 million vaccine doses as they accelerated their booster-shot campaigns in preparation for the holiday season.
African countries, meanwhile, got just 500 million vaccine doses throughout the entire year.
"Make no mistake: rich country governments are to blame for the uncertainty and fear that is once again clouding Christmas," Anna Marriott, health policy manager at Oxfam International, said in a statement. "By blocking the real solutions to vaccine access in poorer countries, they are prolonging the pandemic and all its suffering for every one of us."
The analysis comes as nations across the globe are grappling with the heavily mutated and highly contagious Omicron variant, which quickly emerged as the dominant coronavirus strain in several countries—including the U.S.—after it was first detected in southern Africa last month.
Marriott said that while "rich countries are banking on boosters to keep them safe from Omicron and future variants of Covid-19," booster shots "can never be more than a temporary and inadequate firewall."
"Extinguishing the threat of variants and ending this pandemic requires vaccinating the world," said Marriott. "And that means sharing vaccine recipes and letting developing countries manufacture jabs for themselves."