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The World has administered the First Billion Doses

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The world has administered over 1billion doses of the Covid-19 vaccines in 143 days however Africa has benefited less than 2% of the vaccines administered so far

One billion syringes. A billion alcohol-soaked cotton balls, jabs to the skin and tiny bandages. One billion exhalations of relief. The first Covid-19 vaccine was approved for widespread use in the U.K. on Dec. 2, and 143 days later the first billion doses will have been administered to a pandemic-weary world.

Currently, more than 96% of the world’s people live in countries with active Covid-19 vaccine campaigns. That breadth marks an end to the start-up phase of the biggest public-health effort in history.

Following the administration of these first 1 billion doses of the covid-19 vaccines, what comes next won’t be easy. According to experts if all goes well,  it will take another 19 months to vaccinate 75% of the world’s population at the current pace of 18.5 million shots a day. That is assuming that the less develop countries will acquire vaccines on time and put the necessary infrastructure and logistics in place to maintain the speed of the administration of vaccines seen in advanced economies.

How did we get here? And how will we get from 1 billion shots to 10 billion?

A Billion Doses in 143 Days

Vaccinations accelerate with every 100 million doses administered

 

100 million200 million300 million400 million500 million600 million700 million800 million900 million1 billion61 days191510876665

Source: Bloomberg Vaccine Tracker

The Bloomberg Vaccine Tracker has followed the rollout from the start. For many, the daily accumulation of vaccinations has been a source of hope after a year of unrelenting bad news: 1 million dead in Europe, 571,000 in the U.S., 386,000 in Brazil and a surging outbreak in India. More than 3 million people have died worldwide in spite of the sacrifices made to keep each other safe.

advanced economies like the US and the UK where a majority of the vaccines per capita have been administered had positioned themselves at the front of the vaccination programmes and continue to benefit the most from it while underdeveloped nations still struggle to meet the basic first phase of vaccination for health workers.

‘We’re not out of it until everybody’s out of it’

Vaccine unilateralism played into longstanding rivalries. Europe threatened to block vaccine exports into the U.K. As resentment rose toward America’s abundance, China used its own homegrown shots to assert influence, sending millions of free doses to more than a dozen less-wealthy nations—including Algeria, Mozambique and Bolivia—countries that are also linked through China’s Road and Belt initiative to invest in global infrastructure.

Chinese President Xi Jinping on Tuesday committed to further vaccine assistance for developing countries. “Big countries,” he said, “should behave in a manner befitting their status, and with a greater sense of responsibility.”

The global distribution chain of vaccines tells a story of financial and geopolitical influence.

The wealthiest countries bought Pfizer, Moderna and J&J. Less wealthy countries got shots from Russia’s Gamaleya Research Institute and Chinese pharmaceutical makers Sinovac Biotech Ltd., CansiSino Biologics Inc. and Sinopharm Group Co.

AstraZeneca’s vaccine has been injected almost everywhere—due to bulk distribution agreements struck during early vaccine development. Its use may be wide, but it isn’t deep—just a few hundred thousand doses in many places, especially the developing world.

Which Vaccine Are You Getting?

Income and geopolitics determine what’s available in most countries

Pfizer/BioNTech

Moderna

AstraZeneca/Oxford

Johnson & Johnson

Gamaleya

Sinovac Biotech

CanSino Biologics

Sinopharm

North America

The U.S. has been the biggest global consumer of Pfizer, Moderna and J&J.

Latin America & Caribbean

More countries are using Chinese and Russian vaccines here than in any other region.

Brazil

Mexico

Colombia

Argentina

Peru

Venezuela

Chile

Guatemala

Ecuador

Bolivia

Dominican Republic

Honduras

Paraguay

Nicaragua

El Salvador

Costa Rica

Panama

Uruguay

Jamaica

Trinidad and Tobago

Guyana

Suriname

Belize

Bahamas

Barbados

St. Lucia

Aruba

St. Vincent and the Grenadines

Grenada

Antigua and Barbuda

Dominica

Cayman Islands

Bermuda

Saint Kitts and Nevis

Brazil

Mexico

Colombia

Argentina

Peru

Venezuela

Chile

Guatemala

Ecuador

Bolivia

Dominican Republic

Honduras

Paraguay

Nicaragua

El Salvador

Costa Rica

Panama

Uruguay

Jamaica

Trinidad and Tobago

Guyana

Suriname

Belize

Bahamas

Barbados

St. Lucia

Aruba

St. Vincent and the Grenadines

Grenada

Antigua and Barbuda

Dominica

Cayman Islands

Bermuda

Saint Kitts and Nevis

Brazil

Mexico

Colombia

Argentina

Peru

Venezuela

Chile

Guatemala

Ecuador

Bolivia

Dominican Republic

Honduras

Paraguay

Nicaragua

El Salvador

Costa Rica

Panama

Uruguay

Jamaica

Trinidad and Tobago

Guyana

Suriname

Belize

Bahamas

Barbados

St. Lucia

Aruba

St. Vincent and the Grenadines

Grenada

Antigua and Barbuda

Dominica

Cayman Islands

Bermuda

Saint Kitts and Nevis

Brazil

Mexico

Colombia

Argentina

Peru

Venezuela

Chile

Guatemala

Ecuador

Bolivia

Dominican Republic

Honduras

Paraguay

Nicaragua

El Salvador

Costa Rica

Panama

Uruguay

Jamaica

Trinidad and Tobago

Guyana

Suriname

Belize

Bahamas

Barbados

St. Lucia

Aruba

St. Vincent and the Grenadines

Grenada

Antigua and Barbuda

Dominica

Cayman Islands

Bermuda

Saint Kitts and Nevis

Brazil

Mexico

Colombia

Argentina

Peru

Venezuela

Chile

Guatemala

Ecuador

Bolivia

Dominican Republic

Honduras

Paraguay

Nicaragua

El Salvador

Costa Rica

Panama

Uruguay

Jamaica

Trinidad and Tobago

Guyana

Suriname

Belize

Bahamas

Barbados

St. Lucia

Aruba

St. Vincent and the Grenadines

Grenada

Antigua and Barbuda

Dominica

Cayman Islands

Bermuda

Saint Kitts and Nevis

Brazil

Mexico

Colombia

Argentina

Peru

Venezuela

Chile

Guatemala

Ecuador

Bolivia

Dominican Republic

Honduras

Paraguay

Nicaragua

El Salvador

Costa Rica

Panama

Uruguay

Jamaica

Trinidad and Tobago

Guyana

Suriname

Belize

Bahamas

Barbados

St. Lucia

Aruba

St. Vincent and the Grenadines

Grenada

Antigua and Barbuda

Dominica

Cayman Islands

Bermuda

Saint Kitts and Nevis

Brazil

Mexico

Colombia

Argentina

Peru

Venezuela

Chile

Guatemala

Ecuador

Bolivia

Dominican Republic

Honduras

Paraguay

Nicaragua

El Salvador

Costa Rica

Panama

Uruguay

Jamaica

Trinidad and Tobago

Guyana

Suriname

Belize

Bahamas

Barbados

St. Lucia

Aruba

St. Vincent and the Grenadines

Grenada

Antigua and Barbuda

Dominica

Cayman Islands

Bermuda

Saint Kitts and Nevis

Brazil

Mexico

Colombia

Argentina

Peru

Venezuela

Chile

Guatemala

Ecuador

Bolivia

Dominican Republic

Honduras

Paraguay

Nicaragua

El Salvador

Costa Rica

Panama

Uruguay

Jamaica

Trinidad and Tobago

Guyana

Suriname

Belize

Bahamas

Barbados

St. Lucia

Aruba

St. Vincent and the Grenadines

Grenada

Antigua and Barbuda

Dominica

Cayman Islands

Bermuda

Saint Kitts and Nevis

Western Europe & Scandinavia

Pfizer, Moderna and U.K-based AstraZeneca dominate. 

Germany

U.K.

France

Italy

Spain

Netherlands

Belgium

Greece

Sweden

Portugal

Austria

Switzerland

Denmark

Finland

Norway

Ireland

Luxembourg

Iceland

Isle of Man

Andorra

Greenland

Monaco

San Marino

Germany

U.K.

France

Italy

Spain

Netherlands

Belgium

Greece

Sweden

Portugal

Austria

Switzerland

Denmark

Finland

Norway

Ireland

Luxembourg

Iceland

Isle of Man

Andorra

Greenland

Monaco

San Marino

Germany

U.K.

France

Italy

Spain

Netherlands

Belgium

Greece

Sweden

Portugal

Austria

Switzerland

Denmark

Finland

Norway

Ireland

Luxembourg

Iceland

Isle of Man

Andorra

Greenland

Monaco

San Marino

Germany

U.K.

France

Italy

Spain

Netherlands

Belgium

Greece

Sweden

Portugal

Austria

Switzerland

Denmark

Finland

Norway

Ireland

Luxembourg

Iceland

Isle of Man

Andorra

Greenland

Monaco

San Marino

Germany

U.K.

France

Italy

Spain

Netherlands

Belgium

Greece

Sweden

Portugal

Austria

Switzerland

Denmark

Finland

Norway

Ireland

Luxembourg

Iceland

Isle of Man

Andorra

Greenland

Monaco

San Marino

Germany

U.K.

France

Italy

Spain

Netherlands

Belgium

Greece

Sweden

Portugal

Austria

Switzerland

Denmark

Finland

Norway

Ireland

Luxembourg

Iceland

Isle of Man

Andorra

Greenland

Monaco

San Marino

Germany

U.K.

France

Italy

Spain

Netherlands

Belgium

Greece

Sweden

Portugal

Austria

Switzerland

Denmark

Finland

Norway

Ireland

Luxembourg

Iceland

Isle of Man

Andorra

Greenland

Monaco

San Marino

Germany

U.K.

France

Italy

Spain

Netherlands

Belgium

Greece

Sweden

Portugal

Austria

Switzerland

Denmark

Finland

Norway

Ireland

Luxembourg

Iceland

Isle of Man

Andorra

Greenland

Monaco

San Marino

Central & Eastern Europe

These countries are using more than three different vaccines on average. 

Russia

Turkey

Ukraine

Poland

Romania

Czech Republic

Azerbaijan

Hungary

Belarus

Serbia

Bulgaria

Slovakia

Croatia

Georgia

Bosnia and Herzegovina

Armenia

Albania

Lithuania

Moldova

North Macedonia

Slovenia

Latvia

Kosovo

Estonia

Cyprus

Montenegro

Russia

Turkey

Ukraine

Poland

Romania

Czech Republic

Azerbaijan

Hungary

Belarus

Serbia

Bulgaria

Slovakia

Croatia

Georgia

Bosnia and Herzegovina

Armenia

Albania

Lithuania

Moldova

North Macedonia

Slovenia

Latvia

Kosovo

Estonia

Cyprus

Montenegro

Russia

Turkey

Ukraine

Poland

Romania

Czech Republic

Azerbaijan

Hungary

Belarus

Serbia

Bulgaria

Slovakia

Croatia

Georgia

Bosnia and Herzegovina

Armenia

Albania

Lithuania

Moldova

North Macedonia

Slovenia

Latvia

Kosovo

Estonia

Cyprus

Montenegro

Russia

Turkey

Ukraine

Poland

Romania

Czech Republic

Azerbaijan

Hungary

Belarus

Serbia

Bulgaria

Slovakia

Croatia

Georgia

Bosnia and Herzegovina

Armenia

Albania

Lithuania

Moldova

North Macedonia

Slovenia

Latvia

Kosovo

Estonia

Cyprus

Montenegro

Russia

Turkey

Ukraine

Poland

Romania

Czech Republic

Azerbaijan

Hungary

Belarus

Serbia

Bulgaria

Slovakia

Croatia

Georgia

Bosnia and Herzegovina

Armenia

Albania

Lithuania

Moldova

North Macedonia

Slovenia

Latvia

Kosovo

Estonia

Cyprus

Montenegro

Russia

Turkey

Ukraine

Poland

Romania

Czech Republic

Azerbaijan

Hungary

Belarus

Serbia

Bulgaria

Slovakia

Croatia

Georgia

Bosnia and Herzegovina

Armenia

Albania

Lithuania

Moldova

North Macedonia

Slovenia

Latvia

Kosovo

Estonia

Cyprus

Montenegro

Russia

Turkey

Ukraine

Poland

Romania

Czech Republic

Azerbaijan

Hungary

Belarus

Serbia

Bulgaria

Slovakia

Croatia

Georgia

Bosnia and Herzegovina

Armenia

Albania

Lithuania

Moldova

North Macedonia

Slovenia

Latvia

Kosovo

Estonia

Cyprus

Montenegro

Russia

Turkey

Ukraine

Poland

Romania

Czech Republic

Azerbaijan

Hungary

Belarus

Serbia

Bulgaria

Slovakia

Croatia

Georgia

Bosnia and Herzegovina

Armenia

Albania

Lithuania

Moldova

North Macedonia

Slovenia

Latvia

Kosovo

Estonia

Cyprus

Montenegro

Middle East & North Africa

This region has the greatest vaccine diversity, thanks to widespread adoption of shots from both Eastern and Western manufacturers. 

Egypt

Iran

Algeria

Iraq

Morocco

Saudi Arabia

Tunisia

UAE

Jordan

Israel

Lebanon

Libya

Kuwait

Oman

Qatar

Bahrain

Djibouti

Malta

Egypt

Iran

Algeria

Iraq

Morocco

Saudi Arabia

Tunisia

UAE

Jordan

Israel

Lebanon

Libya

Kuwait

Oman

Qatar

Bahrain

Djibouti

Malta

Egypt

Iran

Algeria

Iraq

Morocco

Saudi Arabia

Tunisia

UAE

Jordan

Israel

Lebanon

Libya

Kuwait

Oman

Qatar

Bahrain

Djibouti

Malta

Egypt

Iran

Algeria

Iraq

Morocco

Saudi Arabia

Tunisia

UAE

Jordan

Israel

Lebanon

Libya

Kuwait

Oman

Qatar

Bahrain

Djibouti

Malta

Egypt

Iran

Algeria

Iraq

Morocco

Saudi Arabia

Tunisia

UAE

Jordan

Israel

Lebanon

Libya

Kuwait

Oman

Qatar

Bahrain

Djibouti

Malta

Egypt

Iran

Algeria

Iraq

Morocco

Saudi Arabia

Tunisia

UAE

Jordan

Israel

Lebanon

Libya

Kuwait

Oman

Qatar

Bahrain

Djibouti

Malta

Egypt

Iran

Algeria

Iraq

Morocco

Saudi Arabia

Tunisia

UAE

Jordan

Israel

Lebanon

Libya

Kuwait

Oman

Qatar

Bahrain

Djibouti

Malta

Egypt

Iran

Algeria

Iraq

Morocco

Saudi Arabia

Tunisia

UAE

Jordan

Israel

Lebanon

Libya

Kuwait

Oman

Qatar

Bahrain

Djibouti

Malta

Sub-Saharan Africa

The latest to get going, few countries here have more than one type of shot in rotation. 

Nigeria

DR Congo

Ethiopia

South Africa

Kenya

Sudan

Uganda

Mozambique

Ghana

Angola

Ivory Coast

Cameroon

Niger

Malawi

Mali

Zambia

Senegal

Zimbabwe

Guinea

South Sudan

Rwanda

Benin

Togo

Sierra Leone

Liberia

Republic of the Congo

Mauritania

Namibia

Botswana

Gambia

Gabon

Lesotho

Guinea-Bissau

Equatorial Guinea

Mauritius

Eswatini

Comoros

Cape Verde

Sao Tome and Principe

Seychelles

Nigeria

DR Congo

Ethiopia

South Africa

Kenya

Sudan

Uganda

Mozambique

Ghana

Angola

Ivory Coast

Cameroon

Niger

Malawi

Mali

Zambia

Senegal

Zimbabwe

Guinea

South Sudan

Rwanda

Benin

Togo

Sierra Leone

Liberia

Republic of the Congo

Mauritania

Namibia

Botswana

Gambia

Gabon

Lesotho

Guinea-Bissau

Equatorial Guinea

Mauritius

Eswatini

Comoros

Cape Verde

Sao Tome and Principe

Seychelles

Nigeria

DR Congo

Ethiopia

South Africa

Kenya

Sudan

Uganda

Mozambique

Ghana

Angola

Ivory Coast

Cameroon

Niger

Malawi

Mali

Zambia

Senegal

Zimbabwe

Guinea

South Sudan

Rwanda

Benin

Togo

Sierra Leone

Liberia

Republic of the Congo

Mauritania

Namibia

Botswana

Gambia

Gabon

Lesotho

Guinea-Bissau

Equatorial Guinea

Mauritius

Eswatini

Comoros

Cape Verde

Sao Tome and Principe

Seychelles

Nigeria

DR Congo

Ethiopia

South Africa

Kenya

Sudan

Uganda

Mozambique

Ghana

Angola

Ivory Coast

Cameroon

Niger

Malawi

Mali

Zambia

Senegal

Zimbabwe

Guinea

South Sudan

Rwanda

Benin

Togo

Sierra Leone

Liberia

Republic of the Congo

Mauritania

Namibia

Botswana

Gambia

Gabon

Lesotho

Guinea-Bissau

Equatorial Guinea

Mauritius

Eswatini

Comoros

Cape Verde

Sao Tome and Principe

Seychelles

Nigeria

DR Congo

Ethiopia

South Africa

Kenya

Sudan

Uganda

Mozambique

Ghana

Angola

Ivory Coast

Cameroon

Niger

Malawi

Mali

Zambia

Senegal

Zimbabwe

Guinea

South Sudan

Rwanda

Benin

Togo

Sierra Leone

Liberia

Republic of the Congo

Mauritania

Namibia

Botswana

Gambia

Gabon

Lesotho

Guinea-Bissau

Equatorial Guinea

Mauritius

Eswatini

Comoros

Cape Verde

Sao Tome and Principe

Seychelles

Nigeria

DR Congo

Ethiopia

South Africa

Kenya

Sudan

Uganda

Mozambique

Ghana

Angola

Ivory Coast

Cameroon

Niger

Malawi

Mali

Zambia

Senegal

Zimbabwe

Guinea

South Sudan

Rwanda

Benin

Togo

Sierra Leone

Liberia

Republic of the Congo

Mauritania

Namibia

Botswana

Gambia

Gabon

Lesotho

Guinea-Bissau

Equatorial Guinea

Mauritius

Eswatini

Comoros

Cape Verde

Sao Tome and Principe

Seychelles

Nigeria

DR Congo

Ethiopia

South Africa

Kenya

Sudan

Uganda

Mozambique

Ghana

Angola

Ivory Coast

Cameroon

Niger

Malawi

Mali

Zambia

Senegal

Zimbabwe

Guinea

South Sudan

Rwanda

Benin

Togo

Sierra Leone

Liberia

Republic of the Congo

Mauritania

Namibia

Botswana

Gambia

Gabon

Lesotho

Guinea-Bissau

Equatorial Guinea

Mauritius

Eswatini

Comoros

Cape Verde

Sao Tome and Principe

Seychelles

Nigeria

DR Congo

Ethiopia

South Africa

Kenya

Sudan

Uganda

Mozambique

Ghana

Angola

Ivory Coast

Cameroon

Niger

Malawi

Mali

Zambia

Senegal

Zimbabwe

Guinea

South Sudan

Rwanda

Benin

Togo

Sierra Leone

Liberia

Republic of the Congo

Mauritania

Namibia

Botswana

Gambia

Gabon

Lesotho

Guinea-Bissau

Equatorial Guinea

Mauritius

Eswatini

Comoros

Cape Verde

Sao Tome and Principe

Seychelles

South & Central Asia

India’s manufacturers licensed AstraZeneca’s shot and are working on a homegrown vaccine as well. 

India

Pakistan

Bangladesh

Afghanistan

Uzbekistan

Nepal

Sri Lanka

Kazakhstan

Tajikistan

Kyrgyzstan

Turkmenistan

Bhutan

Maldives

India

Pakistan

Bangladesh

Afghanistan

Uzbekistan

Nepal

Sri Lanka

Kazakhstan

Tajikistan

Kyrgyzstan

Turkmenistan

Bhutan

Maldives

India

Pakistan

Bangladesh

Afghanistan

Uzbekistan

Nepal

Sri Lanka

Kazakhstan

Tajikistan

Kyrgyzstan

Turkmenistan

Bhutan

Maldives

India

Pakistan

Bangladesh

Afghanistan

Uzbekistan

Nepal

Sri Lanka

Kazakhstan

Tajikistan

Kyrgyzstan

Turkmenistan

Bhutan

Maldives

India

Pakistan

Bangladesh

Afghanistan

Uzbekistan

Nepal

Sri Lanka

Kazakhstan

Tajikistan

Kyrgyzstan

Turkmenistan

Bhutan

Maldives

India

Pakistan

Bangladesh

Afghanistan

Uzbekistan

Nepal

Sri Lanka

Kazakhstan

Tajikistan

Kyrgyzstan

Turkmenistan

Bhutan

Maldives

India

Pakistan

Bangladesh

Afghanistan

Uzbekistan

Nepal

Sri Lanka

Kazakhstan

Tajikistan

Kyrgyzstan

Turkmenistan

Bhutan

Maldives

India

Pakistan

Bangladesh

Afghanistan

Uzbekistan

Nepal

Sri Lanka

Kazakhstan

Tajikistan

Kyrgyzstan

Turkmenistan

Bhutan

Maldives

East Asia & Pacific

Countries in China’s backyard are half as likely to use its vaccines as the leading Western options. 

China

Indonesia

Japan

Philippines

Vietnam

Thailand

Myanmar

South Korea

Malaysia

Australia

Taiwan

Cambodia

Papua New Guinea

Hong Kong

Laos

Singapore

New Zealand

Mongolia

Timor-Leste

Fiji

Macau

Solomon Islands

Brunei

Tonga

Nauru

China

Indonesia

Japan

Philippines

Vietnam

Thailand

Myanmar

South Korea

Malaysia

Australia

Taiwan

Cambodia

Papua New Guinea

Hong Kong

Laos

Singapore

New Zealand

Mongolia

Timor-Leste

Fiji

Macau

Solomon Islands

Brunei

Tonga

Nauru

China

Indonesia

Japan

Philippines

Vietnam

Thailand

Myanmar

South Korea

Malaysia

Australia

Taiwan

Cambodia

Papua New Guinea

Hong Kong

Laos

Singapore

New Zealand

Mongolia

Timor-Leste

Fiji

Macau

Solomon Islands

Brunei

Tonga

Nauru

China

Indonesia

Japan

Philippines

Vietnam

Thailand

Myanmar

South Korea

Malaysia

Australia

Taiwan

Cambodia

Papua New Guinea

Hong Kong

Laos

Singapore

New Zealand

Mongolia

Timor-Leste

Fiji

Macau

Solomon Islands

Brunei

Tonga

Nauru

China

Indonesia

Japan

Philippines

Vietnam

Thailand

Myanmar

South Korea

Malaysia

Australia

Taiwan

Cambodia

Papua New Guinea

Hong Kong

Laos

Singapore

New Zealand

Mongolia

Timor-Leste

Fiji

Macau

Solomon Islands

Brunei

Tonga

Nauru

China

Indonesia

Japan

Philippines

Vietnam

Thailand

Myanmar

South Korea

Malaysia

Australia

Taiwan

Cambodia

Papua New Guinea

Hong Kong

Laos

Singapore

New Zealand

Mongolia

Timor-Leste

Fiji

Macau

Solomon Islands

Brunei

Tonga

Nauru

China

Indonesia

Japan

Philippines

Vietnam

Thailand

Myanmar

South Korea

Malaysia

Australia

Taiwan

Cambodia

Papua New Guinea

Hong Kong

Laos

Singapore

New Zealand

Mongolia

Timor-Leste

Fiji

Macau

Solomon Islands

Brunei

Tonga

Nauru

China

Indonesia

Japan

Philippines

Vietnam

Thailand

Myanmar

South Korea

Malaysia

Australia

Taiwan

Cambodia

Papua New Guinea

Hong Kong

Laos

Singapore

New Zealand

Mongolia

Timor-Leste

Fiji

Macau

Solomon Islands

Brunei

Tonga

Nauru

Note: Countries within each grouping are sorted by population

The pharmaceutical balance of power

The drug industry has long been dominated by U.S. and European giants, but the pandemic created a need that couldn’t be filled by the legacy players alone. An array of suppliers from around the world rushed in to fill the vacuum.

For the first time, China and Russia have become high-profile bio-pharmaceutical exporters.

China has been incubating its domestic pharmaceutical industry for years, working to create high-technology drugs that could compete abroad. It’s relying almost exclusively on homegrown vaccines for its own population. But it’s also sending doses abroad—outside China, 14 million doses of vaccines developed by CanSino, Sinopharm and Sinovac had been administered as of April 8, according to a Bloomberg tally.

Russia has filled a gap as well, with its Sputnik vaccine deployed in at least 39 countries. India, a pharmaceutical manufacturing superpower in its own right, has been ramping up production of a new vaccine made by Bharat Biotech.

Technology: One shot to rule them all

The pandemic has also given rise to pharmaceutical breakthroughs that could have lasting effects on medicine. Vaccines that use mRNA—a genetic component that turns cells into protein-making factories, triggering an immune response—were first to win widespread approval and quickest to ramp up production.

New vaccine development is typically measured in years, not months. The pandemic brought billions of dollars to bear as well as an endless supply of willing test subjects. Roughly half a billion people participated in vaccine trials around the world, and the raging pandemic meant many of those trials could test their technologies swiftly.

The success of mRNA vaccines in moving from the lab to the front lines in less than a year proved a technology that had tantalized drug researchers for a decade. It was a sharp turn from past outbreaks, like Zika and SARS, when drugmakers had rushed to develop and test vaccines, only to watch the virus flame out and their efforts go to waste.

“They had been burned,” Alex Azar, the Trump administration’s secretary of Health and Human Services, said in a December interview describing the U.S. effort to recruit drugmakers. “It wouldn’t have happened without us. It would have taken years.”

The continued pace of Covid-19 infections will require more technological breakthroughs before the pandemic is finished.

Clinical trials are underway for edible vaccines, inhalable vaccines, vaccines for newborns and young children. The U.S. military recently began an early-stage trial for a universal coronavirus vaccine—one that would protect against any mutant strains and even the version of coronavirus that causes as many as a third of cases of the common cold.

The mRNA technology is particularly well suited for rapid deployment against mutant strains of Covid-19. Pfizer and Moderna are both testing variations and say boosters will be ready in the fall if needed. If an annual booster is required, similar to the flu vaccine, today’s daily vaccination rate of 16 million shots a day may need to double in order to get 75% of the global population fully protected in 2023.

Who’s been vaccinated?

Vaccine access so far has been determined by national wealth. Enough doses have now been administered to fully vaccinate 6.5% of the global population, but countries with the highest incomes are getting vaccinated about 25 times faster than those with the lowest.

Because of the interconnectedness of our modern world and the ability of the virus to mutate, countries can’t be protected in isolation, said Naor Bar-Zeev, deputy director of the International Vaccine Access Center at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. “A pandemic, by definition, is a global phenomenon,” he said. “We’re not out of it until everybody’s out of it.”

Uneven Access to Vaccines

The wealthiest 27 countries have 38.6% of the vaccinations…

👆 Hover for more comparisons

…but 10.8% of the world’s population

Note: Vaccine access calculations account for the number of doses needed for full protection; some vaccines require a two-dose regimen while others require just a single dose. Countries are ordered by GDP per capita (PPP).

Looking for the next normal

The vaccine campaign has made mixed progress. The virus has all but vanished in Israel, which leads the world with nearly all of the adult population vaccinated, but rages unchecked in India. Even some highly vaccinated regions are experiencing outbreaks, leading many to ask whether vaccines can ever be enough to control this disease. In Chile and Bahrain, in Maine and Michigan, hospitals remain full even after 40% of the population has received at least one shot.

Vaccines take time to do their work. After the first prick of the needle, the immune system needs weeks to build its defenses. For people who get sick with Covid, days or weeks can pass between the initial exposure to when a positive test gets reported to the public.

Taking those delays together, it could mean a month or more for the impact of vaccinations to show up in the data. Today’s reported cases may only reflect the impact of vaccines administered by early March.

In recent days, high-profile outbreaks in heavily vaccinated places have declined, sometimes sharply: in Chile, Bahrain, Hungary and Serbia, as well as in Connecticut, Vermont, Michigan and New Jersey. The U.S. and EU—both considered in recent weeks to be on the brink of new surges—have instead seen new cases begin to pitch downward.

It will take weeks to know whether the early gains are permanent, or if another wave is on the way. But with each new billion doses administered, the world can breathe that much easier.

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