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World COVID vaccines close in on 1 billion but concerns over vaccine distribution remain

The number of people vaccinated from COVID-19 is closing in on 1 billion, according to COVID tracker data from Financial Times.

According to the paper, the number of COVID-19 vaccines administered is at least 976,226,843, inching the figures close to 1 billion. The vaccinations given are in 214 locations.

Late 2020 breakthrough

A breakthrough in the COVID-19 vaccines arrived towards the end of 2020, with many wealthier countries beginning the vaccinations in December. According to the Financial Times, at least seven COVID vaccines (from 230 candidates) are in use in at least one country.

The most used vaccines are Pfizer and Moderna, which are finding great use in wealthier nations with facilities to store them. Oxford AstraZeneca, meanwhile, is finding significant usage in many low-income countries due to its ease of storage.

Sputnik V is also finding use across these countries. Sinopharm from China is also widely used in many Middle East and Arabic countries.

Israel is the country with the fastest rollout of vaccines. Close to 53 % of its population has received at least one dose of a COVID vaccine. More than a third have already gotten both doses.

Vaccine inequity concerns

But while the figures are promising, the rollout of the vaccines is skewed favourably in the large economies. This move led to WHO stating that the world risked ‘catastrophic moral failure’ if they continued with the vaccine inequity.

The WHO teamed up with Gavi (Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization) and lead COVAX to help distribute vaccines equally. But supply constraints have seen the program lag on its set targets.

Newer vaccine-resistant strains 

If the virus spreads unchecked in these developing countries, it will mutate into new strains resistant to the available vaccines. Already, the South African strain is proving a challenge to most available vaccines.

India is also causing concern for the world, with infections now rising to record highs for the third day in a row. This has some health experts worried that another new strain could be fueling the surge.

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