Each country has their own strategy for giving out the vaccine. We give you all the details.
Over 90 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been given in 59 countries worldwide since December. The United Kingdom, United States and Israel were the first countries to administer approved vaccines on Dec. 20. Worldwide, over 4 million doses are given every day.
The AstraZeneca or Oxford vaccine is set to provide 3 billion doses at $3-$4 each dose, making it the cheapest option. Novavax ($16 a dose), Pfizer/BioNTech ($19.50 a dose) and Moderna ($32-$37 a dose) are other popular vaccines that are being distributed.
Canada and the United Kingdom made the biggest contracts with vaccine companies, both reserving three times the doses necessary for their entire population. Russia and China are relying on vaccines made domestically.
Although Canada ordered the most doses, their distribution has not been smooth. Many of the at risk people in care facilities did not receive vaccines because of a lack of transportation planning. Plans were left up to the individual provinces, so results vary depending upon the area.
The United Kingdom’s distribution is headed by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunization. The committee has split the population into groups giving priority to residents and staff who work in nursing homes. After these individuals, health and social care workers will be next, followed by those who are over 80.
In Aug. 2020, Russia became the first country to approve a vaccine, the Sputnik V vaccine, even though Phase Three trials had not begun. Sputnik V’s creator stated on Jan. 5 that 1 million Russians had been vaccinated. Russian doctors told Financial Times that the distribution to hospitals has been slow because of delayed shipments and limited supplies.
China also administered unapproved vaccine candidates to its population. The country has decided that most of the vaccines that will be distributed will be from China-based companies Sinopharm and Sinovac Biotech. The Sinopharm vaccine has now been approved, while the Sinovac vaccine has not. These vaccines can be stored in regular refrigerators instead of special freezers, making distribution easier. Essential city workers and People’s Liberation Army members were the first to get vaccinated.
Israel, United Arab Emirates and the United Kingdom have vaccinated the highest percentage of their populations. The United States, United Kingdom and China have administered the most vaccines in total.
Israel’s population is just above 9 million, and in just two weeks of giving out the vaccine, 15% of their population have received a dose. The nation has a fully digital healthcare system, making it easy to track vaccinations and priority groups.
In the United States, the states have different protocols for allocation. Almost all of the states are now vaccinating older citizens and other essential workers because health care workers are all vaccinated.
States with bigger populations such as Georgia, Virginia and California have only administered 22-26% of the vaccine doses they were given. Experts say that states that are heavily relying on pharmacies for vaccination have gone slower. In contrast, West Virginia used the national guard to administer and have given about 70% of their vaccine doses.
The United States will rely on the U.S. based Moderna and Pfeizer/BioNTech vaccines.
COVAX, led by the World Health Organization (WHO), is collaborating with 190 countries to administer vaccines worldwide, especially in poorer countries. One of President Biden’s first actions as president was having the United States join COVAX. COVAX aims to distribute 2 billion doses by the end of this year, 90% of which to poorer countries.
During distribution, another issue has been vaccine waste. States are supposed to report any vaccination waste to the CDC, but many are not. Vaccines are thrown out if they thaw, expire or the vials are damaged. Pennsylvania reported that 0.1% of doses received were wasted.
A big factor in the ease of transportation of vaccines is what temperature they need to be stored at. The majority of the vaccines can be stored just above freezing, but a few require much colder storage. The Pfizer vaccine needs to be stored at -70 C, making it more difficult to transport.
A major concern for the eradication of COVID-19 is how vaccines will be distributed to poorer countries. WHO suggested that 70% of the world’s population needs immunity in order for COVID-19 to no longer be a concern.
Vaccine trials began in May 2020 and most countries currently distributing vaccines began in late Dec. of 2020. Historically, many vaccines take about 10 years to get approval, but this process has been expedited by emergency use orders.