Around the world, vaccinations have become more and more widespread, marking the beginning of the end of pandemic life that began over a year ago. However, vaccine distribution varies in speed and effectiveness from country to country. Some nations, such as Israel, are excelling in the vaccination process. Others, such as Cameroon, are falling desperately behind.
In the United States, more than half of all adults have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. This, along with promising news from both Pfizer and Moderna on the availability of vaccines for younger Americans, makes a return to normalcy seem right around the corner. While both Moderna and Pfizer’s vaccines have had almost no issues so far, the most recently approved vaccine from Johnson & Johnson (J&J) has seen its share of distrust, following news that seven cases of rare blood clots in the brain could be attributed to the J&J vaccine. Due to these concerns, rollout of this specific COVID-19 vaccine was put on hold for several days before it resumed on April 23. All US adults above the age of 16 are now eligible for vaccination in the United States.
India has just announced its next stage of COVID-19 vaccination, with everyone over the age of 18 now eligible. This is especially important, as only about one percent of Indian citizens are vaccinated. Along with this, the Serum Institute of India (SII) is experiencing a shortage of vaccines as India’s infection rate skyrockets. With over 360,000 new cases reported on April 28 alone, India has been repeatedly setting new records for daily positive cases. SII is the world’s biggest vaccine manufacturer and a critical piece of COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access, or COVAX, the initiative responsible for distributing vaccines to countries in need. SII is now putting Indian citizens first, a move that could be devastating for developing countries. However, considering the massive surge in COVID-19 cases that has occurred in India, this move is not necessarily viewed as a bad one.
Israel is boasting a very high vaccination rate, with almost sixty percent of adults fully vaccinated as of April 23. As of April 18, Israel’s outdoor masking order has been removed. However, Israeli scientists recently discovered that a variant of COVID-19 originating from Southern Africa may be able to bypass the Pfizer vaccine. This strain has been found to be the most effective at getting past the vaccine above all others tested. Israel’s vaccination success is also not without its underlying issues and inequities. Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip have severely limited access to vaccination, putting them at a much higher risk than the Israeli population. In mid-February, Doctors Without Borders (MSF) reported that a maximum of 35,000 vaccines had been distributed to mainly Palestinian inhabited areas, which only covers about 0.8 percent of the people. Israeli people were more than sixty times more likely to be vaccinated than their Palestinian counterparts at that time. Now, the number of vaccinated Palestinians is slowly rising (3 percent of Palestinians are vaccinated as of April 29), but it is still low considering the population of five million people occupying these areas.
Cameroon, located in Central Africa, with a population of about 26 million people, has administered the lowest number of doses of all the countries in the world. With only four hundred doses administered as of April 24, Cameroon has zero citizens fully vaccinated against COVID-19. However, this could change soon, as Cameroon was delivered 200,000 Chinese Sinopharm vaccines earlier this month on April 12. Reports indicate that many health workers in Cameroon have doubts as to the effectiveness of the vaccine, which could hinder vaccination throughout the country. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) cautions people against traveling to Cameroon, giving the country a COVID-19 level of 4, which is the highest possible score on the risk scale. However, Cameroon’s situation is looking up, as plans for even more vaccines to be imported begin to take shape.
France, as well as other members of the European Union (EU), are having issues with vaccinations. This includes vaccine hesitancy, as well as shortages and what some may call an overly-ambitious vaccine rollout campaign. In a study funded by the Agence Nationale de Santé Publique, or the French Public Health Agency, French adults were asked about their thoughts on vaccination depending on a few factors, such as efficacy, side effects, and more. Of those surveyed, 28.8 percent of all adults outright refused vaccination, regardless of all other factors. France currently has 8.7 percent of its citizens fully vaccinated, with about 20 percent having received at least one dose.
Worldwide vaccination is a necessity if a return to normalcy is to happen. However, issues with supply, hesitancy, and equal distribution hinder progress worldwide. These issues will hopefully be overcome in the near future, especially considering worldwide pushes to reopen.