WASHINGTON - Wealthy countries have received the largest supply of the world’s COVID-19 vaccines, while poor countries have only received 0.2% of the global supply, the World Health Organization announced in a press briefing Friday.
"Most countries do not have anywhere near enough vaccines to cover all health workers or all at-risk groups," said WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus during opening remarks. "There remains a shocking imbalance in the global distribution of vaccines."
More than 700 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered worldwide.
"But over 87 percent have went to high-income or upper-middle-income countries. Low-income countries have received only 0.2 percent," Tedros said.
According to the director-general, on average, one in four people in high-income countries have received a dose of the vaccine. Meanwhile, in low-income countries, it’s about one in 500.
COVAX, a global initiative aimed at equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines, is expected to distribute 100 million doses of the vaccine by the end of March, but due to a shortage in supply, the organization has only been able to distribute 38 million doses.
The global alliance is pursuing strategies to accelerate production and supply and provide poor nations with coronavirus vaccines.
Rocky Mountain Regional VA Medical Center investigational pharmacy technician Sara Berech holds a dose of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine before it is administered in a clinical trial on December 15, 2020 in Aurora, Colorado. The Johnson &
"We understand that some countries and companies plan to do their own bilateral vaccine donations, bypassing COVAX for their own political or commercial reasons," Tedros stated. "These bilateral arrangements run the risk of fanning the flames of vaccine inequity."
"This is a time for partnership, not patronage," Tedros continued.
On Tuesday, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, expressed the importance of getting the entire world vaccinated in order for the United States’ ability to reach herd immunity.
"As long as you have the virus replicating anywhere in the world, chances of developing variants are considerable, which will ultimately come back and could perhaps negatively impact our own response," Fauci told FOX Television Stations. "That’s one of the real prevailing arguments for why we need to make sure the whole world gets vaccinated — not just the people in the developed world."
Of the more than 733 million vaccine doses administered worldwide, 174 million have been administered in the United States alone, according to data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
This story was reported from Los Angeles.