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Vaccination Rates Rise Unevenly as Covid-19 Waves Continue

More than 32% of the population has received at least one dose of vaccine, but that number drops to 1.4% in low-income countries.



A view of clusters of Covid-19 cases. (Direct Relief image)
Worldwide, Covid-19 vaccination rates are on the rise, although distribution continues to be strikingly uneven. According to Our World in Data, 32.7% of the world’s population has had at least one dose of Covid-19 vaccine, and 24.6% of the world is fully vaccinated. That’s a significant increase from two weeks ago, when 15% of the population was fully vaccinated. Five billion doses have been administered globally thus far. However, that increase is much smaller in low-income countries, where only 1.4% of the population has received at least one dose – up from 1.1% two weeks ago. These increases come even as Covid-19 outbreaks, in many cases caused by the contagious Delta variant, continue to occur across the globe. All Africa reported that 55 African countries had reached a total of more than 7,500,000 Covid-19 cases, and over 60,000,000 vaccinations had been given. In West Africa, several countries are dealing with outbreaks of cholera, Ebola, and Marburg virus that pose a threat to already compromised emergency response systems. At the same time, Covid-19 fatalities in the region jumped by 193%, to 1,018 the week of August 9. Even as they deal with simultaneous outbreaks of other diseases, Cote d’Ivoire, Guinea, and Nigeria are all experiencing Covid-19 surges, according to WHO Africa. In the Middle East and North Africa, vaccination rates remain low as the Delta variant causes a spike in cases, The New Humanitarian reported. In Lebanon in particular, hospitals are experiencing shortages of both electricity and medications, caused by the country’s financial crisis. Tunisia, which experienced a wave of Covid-19 cases in July, has seen the rise in cases subside but still has the region’s highest recorded death rate. In Yemen, where years of instability and conflict have overwhelmed the country’s weakened health care system, Covid-19 isolation centers are currently full. Doctors have expressed concern that the Delta variant will further overwhelm weakened health care facilities experiencing a shortage in medical supplies. According to The Tribune India, a third wave of Covid-19 is expected in India in September and October, causing as many as 600,000 new daily cases. A lack of pediatric doctors and equipment may make children as vulnerable as adults to the risks of Covid-19. In the meantime, Al Jazeera reported, India’s drug regulator has granted approval for the emergency use of the world’s first DNA Covid-19 vaccine, in people over the age of 12 years. As reported by Reuters, the Philippines reported record numbers of new Covid-19 cases (more than 18,000) on Monday. New cases are mostly concentrated in Manila and the surrounding area. Hospitals in the country are near full capacity, and some facilities report running out of ICU beds for Covid-19 patients, according to Al Jazeera. Thailand is confronting a third wave of Covid-19, with approximately 4,000 new cases a day, making it one of the worst-hit countries in southeast Asia. Tightly crowded conditions, such as those in slums and markets, appear to be contributing to rapid spread, ABC News reported. In Malaysia, according to CNBC, political and economic situations remain strained as the country faces its worst outbreak. Daily Covid-19 cases surpassed 20,000 in August – the highest globally when adjusted for population size – and the country has experienced more than 1.5 million cumulative cases and 14,000 deaths, according to health ministry data. Even as unmasked protesters in Melbourne expressed their anger at a new round of lockdowns, Australia recorded its highest daily number of cases since the pandemic began, CNN said. AP News reported that the only medical oxygen plant in Haiti’s south was damaged in the magnitude 7.2 earthquake that struck on August 14. Port-au-Prince has two active oxygen plants, but the demand for oxygen has doubled over the past month as the country’s Covid-19 wave continues. In Cuba, according to The New York Times, oxygen supplies are running low, and the factory that produces the country’s canisters is currently closed. A report from the Pan American Health Organization found that only one in five people in Latin America has been vaccinated, Merco Press reported. Even within the region, according to the news source, there is considerable disparity: In Chile and Uruguay, more than 70% of the population has received at least one dose, and countries including Peru, Paraguay, and Bolivia have each inoculated less than 30%. In Central America and the Caribbean, cases are on the rise, while they’ve been declining in South America. In Mexico, the Delta variant is currently circulating in 92% of the territory. On Tuesday, 1.75 million doses of the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine arrived in Mexico from the U.S. in a shipment facilitated by Direct Relief and via donated transport from FedEx. In the United States, Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine became the first to receive full FDA approval on Monday, a development that is expected to lay the groundwork for more vaccine mandates by employers and other organizations, BBC News reported. The National Guard will be deployed to hospitals in Kentucky, according to CNN, as Covid-19 cases overwhelm hospitals. In rural Oregon, too, hospitals are running low on space, and Covid-19 patients are in emergency-room hallways waiting to be admitted to ICUs, the Los Angeles Times reported. The National Guard was deployed to 20 hospitals in the state, in part to settle arguments between hospital staff and patients’ families. In Orlando, Florida, residents have been asked to conserve water so that liquid oxygen can be preserved for hospital use instead, according to The Washington Post.

Direct Relief’s response

Since the start of the pandemic last year, Direct Relief has delivered more than 44,600 medical aid shipments, worth more than $2.7 billion wholesale. Those shipments have contained more than 440 million units of PPE, and other medical resources to partners in 56 U.S. states and territories and 107 countries.

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