Data insight

The world’s yawning vaccination gaps

A year into the global vaccination campaign and here where are in 3 charts

A year into the global vaccination campaign and this is where we are in three new visualizations.

Primary vaccination progress

In virtually every region, we continue to see yawning gaps in primary vaccine coverage. See the chart below, which shows:

  • World Bank regions on the x axis: East Asia & Pacific, Europe & Central Asia, Latin America & Caribbean, Middle East & North Africa, North America, South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa.
  • Vaccine coverage on the y axis: number of adjusted doses per 100 people, where doses have been converted into 2-dose equivalents so 200 represents the full vaccination threshold.
  • Total population size as bubble area.

Booster progress

We can show a similar visualization to track booster progress. Once again, there are huge gaps. This should not come as a surprise given the state of primary vaccination progress.

Vaccine sufficiency for the priority group

Perhaps the most egregious aspect of the gaps in global vaccination progress is that several countries still don’t have sufficient vaccine doses to be able to cover their comparatively small groups of elderly and health workers.

Not a time for complacency

We should celebrate the progress made so far. But this is not the time for complacency. The world’s huge vaccination gaps present a clear vulnerability.

That vulnerability has come into sharper focus during the recent Omicron scare. Helpfully so, as I would argue that the Omicron episode of heightened worry should serve as a wake-up call. And that is regardless of whether Omicron turns out to be less severe than previous variants as the latest data suggest.

As of today, the world remains wholly underprepared against the downside contingency of a next variant that may be both more infectious and more lethal than Delta. We need to look beyond Omicron and ask: If a more transmissible and more lethal variant emerges a year from now, what will we wish then that we had done differently today?

The answer is: we should have have ramped up global capabilities for the swift and agile development, production & distribution of updated vaccines & therapeutics. We currently have a remote-controlled helicopter hovering around on Mars. Addressing today’s yawning vaccination gaps should be no tall order and well within our reach.

May this insight guide our actions going forward – a point that is developed further in this post.