Opinion | The Global Vaccine Drive Is Failing. Can It Be Saved?


By Spencer Bokat-Lindell

Mr. Bokat-Lindell is a staff editor.

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On Monday night, The Washington Post reported that President Biden next week will host a virtual summit at which he plans to call on world leaders to recommit to ending the coronavirus pandemic, chiefly by vaccinating 70 percent of the global population by next September.

Those leaders have their work cut out for them: Nine months after the first Covid vaccine was approved for use, most of the world’s 7.8 billion people have yet to receive even a single shot.

Why is it taking so long to vaccinate the world, and how could it be done faster? Here’s what people are saying.

When will there be enough doses?

From the beginning, a shortage of doses has been the key constraint on the global vaccination drive. Vaccine makers around the world, including those in Russia, China and India, have predicted that they will produce a total of 12 billion doses by the end of 2021, according to Duke University’s Global Health Innovation Center. And if those 12 billion doses were actually made and distributed equitably, Biden’s goal could be met. But, the Duke institute wrote, “those are both big ifs.”

Where things stand: So far, just 5.76 billion doses have been administered. In June, Biden announced an effort to expand manufacturing capacity, most of it in the United States, to “vastly increase supply for the rest of the world.” But as of August, the administration had spent less than 1 percent of the money that Congress appropriated for that purpose, an analysis by the AIDS advocacy group PrEP4All found.

“This lack of attention to executing a robust vaccination strategy abroad is arguably one of their biggest missteps with regard to Covid,” Representative Raja Krishnamoorthi, Democrat of Illinois, told The Times. Krishnamoorthi is one of 116 Democrats who have called for allocating $34 billion to increase vaccine manufacturing capacity in coming legislation.

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