Wealthy countries have already locked up more than a billion doses of coronavirus vaccines, raising worries that the rest of the world will be at the back of the queue in the global effort to defeat the pathogen, Bloomberg reports.
Moves by the U.S. and U.K. to secure supplies from Sanofi and partner GlaxoSmithKline Plc, and another pact between Japan and Pfizer Inc., are the latest in a string of agreements. The European Union has also been aggressive in obtaining shots, well before anyone knows whether they will work.
Although international groups and a number of nations are promising to make vaccines affordable and accessible to all, doses will likely struggle to keep up with demand in a world of roughly 7.8 billion people. The possibility wealthier countries will monopolize supply, a scenario that played out in the 2009 swine flu pandemic, has fueled concerns among poor nations and health advocates.
The U.S., Britain, European Union and Japan have so far secured about 1.3 billion doses of potential Covid-19 immunizations, according to London-based analytics firm Airfinity. Options to snap up additional supplies or pending deals would add more than 1.5 billion doses to that total, its figures show.
“Even if you have an optimistic assessment of the scientific progress, there’s still not enough vaccines for the world,” according to Rasmus Bech Hansen, Airfinity’s chief executive officer. What’s also important to consider is that most of the vaccines may require two doses, he said.
As of August 3, there are more than 18 million cases of the novel coronavirus worldwide, including over 10,6 million recoveries, according to Johns Hopkins University, which is tracking figures from the World Health Organization and additional sources.
Since the beginning of the outbreak, almost 690,000 people have died globally from Covid-19 complications.