India has made an advance purchase of the maximum quantity of Covid vaccine in the world with 1.6 billion doses, but it would only cover 59 percent of its population. A study by Duke University in the USA shows a large gap in the purchase of vaccines from rich nations and developing countries. High-income countries have bought as many doses of vaccines as possible to increase their chances of covering their entire population several times over. Lower-middle and middle-income countries don’t have enough to vaccinate everyone.
The data shows that once Covid vaccines are on the market, most will go to high-income countries. Low- and middle-income countries and equity-focused partnerships like COVAX won’t have enough.
In terms of doses, India tops the list with 1.6 billion doses, followed by the European Union, which so far has 1.36 billion doses from 6 different companies. It is followed by the US, which has bought a total of 1.1 billion doses, followed by COVAX, the vaccine alliance, and then Canada and then the UK.
But once population is taken into account, countries like Canada have bought enough to vaccinate their population more than five times.
The study shows that Canada has purchased enough vaccines to cover 601 percent of its population, the US 443 percent, the United Kingdom 418 percent, Australia 266 percent, and the European Union 244 percent.
Among the developing nations, India will be able to cover only 59% of its population, Mexico 84%, Brazil 46% and Kazakhstan 15% of its population. The Philippines is at the bottom of the table with enough vaccine for only one percent of its population.
Earlier this month, the Center made clear that it is not considering vaccinating the entire country when a coronavirus vaccine is approved.
“The government has never talked about vaccinating the whole country,” said Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan. The goal, it was said, was to work towards a critical mass of vaccinated people who would break the chain of transmission.
The government has also prepared a list of who gets the vaccine first. The priority list was topped by around 1 crore of health professionals, then police and military personnel, people over 50 and under 50 with comorbidities.
Currently, 260 vaccine candidates are in different stages of development globally. Of these, eight are slated to be manufactured in India, including three indigenous people, said the union’s health minister, Dr. Harsh Vardhan.