The seven world leaders who have dished out more vaccines than 201 countries combined

·4 min read
The leaders of the G7 nations: Justin Trudeau, Emmanuel Macron, Mario Draghi, Joe Biden, Yoshihide Suga, Angela Merkel and Boris Johnson. (PA Images)
The leaders of the G7 nations: Justin Trudeau, Emmanuel Macron, Mario Draghi, Joe Biden, Yoshihide Suga, Angela Merkel and Boris Johnson. (PA Images)

As the G7 leaders meet in Cornwall for the first time since the start of the COVID pandemic, one crucial topic under discussion will be how to ensure the poorest countries are able to access vaccines.

Boris Johnson set out a plan on Friday to start donating surplus jabs to countries in need within weeks, and Joe Biden pledged earlier this week to buy up 500 million Pfizer doses to distribute to 100 countries.

While these measures have been warmly welcomed, for some they have been been a long time coming because – so far – the global rollout has been anything but equal.

As the summit takes place, figures show that of the 2.26 billion vaccine doses administered worldwide, a quarter (560,271,029 doses) have been given to people in the G7 nations of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the UK and the US.

In fact, according to the data compiled by experts at Our World in Data and analysed by Yahoo News UK, this means that more coronavirus vaccines have been administered by the G7 countries than 201 other nations combined.

Even more strikingly, the total number of doses administered in G7 countries is 381 times as many as the 50 countries with the lowest total number of total vaccinations combined.

These bubbles represent the total number of vaccines administered.

G7 nations have administered 381 times more vaccines than the 50 countries with the lowest overall vaccine numbers combined. (Yahoo News UK/Flourish/Our World in Data)
G7 nations have administered 381 times more vaccines than the 50 countries with the lowest overall vaccine numbers combined. (Yahoo News UK/Flourish/Our World in Data)

China, which is not part of the G7, has administered by far the highest number of vaccine doses overall – more than a third of the global total. 

The US has the second highest overall total.

Size of total vaccine rollout by country or country group. (Yahoo News UK/ Our World in Data/  Flourish)
Size of total vaccine rollout by country or country group. (Yahoo News UK/ Our World in Data/ Flourish)

In January 2021, as the global vaccine rollout was beginning to gather steam, the director general of the World Health Organization, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, warned: "The world is on the brink of a catastrophic moral failure – and the price of this failure will be paid with lives and livelihoods in the world’s poorest countries."

His warning fell on deaf ears. Throughout the year, richer and more powerful nations have surged ahead while poorer ones struggle to get their hands on life-saving doses.

According to analysis by experts at Oxford University's Our World in Data, high-income countries have administered 63 vaccines per 100 people. In low-income countries the number is less than one vaccine per 100 people.

These are the 20 countries with the highest rate of vaccines administered per 100 people. All countries are high-income unless marked. Four of the G7 nations feature in the list.

Vaccines administered per 100  people. (Flourish/Our World in Data/Yahoo)
Vaccines administered per 100 people. Countries with populations less than 300,000 excluded. (Flourish/Our World in Data/Yahoo)

Leaders of G7 leaders, along with heads of the European Union who attend the summit, are expected to collectively agree to provide a billion vaccine doses in an effort to end the pandemic globally in 2022, amid mounting pressure on their nations to share the burden of protecting the world from the virus.

Biden has already promised to donate half a billion Pfizer vaccines for 92 low and lower-middle income countries and the African Union.

Under the PM's plan, the UK will provide five million doses by the end of September, with 25 million more by the end of 2021.

Watch: G7 leaders meet Boris and Carrie Johnson at Carbis Bay

There are already calls to go further, with campaigners and human rights agencies urging leaders to commit to waiving patents for jabs.

Johnson told the BBC on Friday: “I think that the people of this country should be very proud that of the 1.5 billion doses that are being distributed around the world to the poorest and neediest in the world under the Covax programme, one in three come from the Oxford/AstraZeneca deal that the UK did, allowing those vaccines to be distributed at cost.

“And that’s before we’ve talked about the £548 million that we’ve contributed to COVAX, £1.6 billion to Gavi (the vaccine alliance).

“And, yes, we’re putting in five million doses by September, but we’ll do … 100 million before 12 months is out. That’s a huge number of extra doses."

Zoe Abrams, executive director at the British Red Cross, said: “While every commitment must be welcomed, more needs to be done, and fast.”

Unicef ambassadors wrote an open letter to the leaders earlier in the week, urging G7 countries to commit to donating 20% of their vaccines between June and August.

They wrote: We’re asking you to make these urgent donations by August and to set out a roadmap to scale up donations as supplies increase.

"Forecasts suggest as many as 1 billion doses may be available for donation by year end.

"The hopes of the world rest on your shoulders. Together, you must rise to this challenge. Let’s build a healthier, brighter and fairer future for every child and for everyone."

Watch: Developing countries desperately need COVID vaccines: World Bank's Ayhan Kose