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Money Alone Won’t Ensure Global Vaccine Equity

The World Bank has pledged $12 billion to help poor countries purchase and distribute COVID-19 vaccines, tests, and treatments. But its pledge lacks critical information, raising the risk that this urgently needed financing will be wasted.

NEW YORK – In March, South Sudan received its first batch of COVID-19 vaccines. While that is good news, it came almost four months after the first doses were administered in the United Kingdom, highlighting the wide disparities in global vaccine distribution. If these gaps are not narrowed soon – with international bodies leading a transparent and equitable global vaccine rollout – the entire pandemic response will be compromised.

South Sudan received its doses thanks to the COVID-19 Vaccine Global Access (COVAX) facility, which has been at the forefront of efforts to ensure equitable access to COVID-19 tests, treatments, and vaccines worldwide. Institutions like the World Health Organization, the World Bank, and UNICEF have supported these efforts.

But rich countries are hampering progress by continuing to hoard supplies. In the United States, more than 2.1 million doses are being administered per day; South Sudan has administered around 1,000 vaccines in total. Overall, residents of high- and middle-income countries have received 83% of the 1.2 billion vaccine doses delivered so far.

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