Our health editor Sarah Boseley asks the question this morning: Can we vaccinate the world against Covid by the end of 2022?
As ambitious declarations go – even for Boris Johnson – it was a big one. At the weekend, the UK prime minister said he would urge the G7 leaders to vaccinate the world against Covid by the end of next year.
But is this feasible? That rather depends on your definition. No country will vaccinate every adult. Vaccinating enough to achieve herd immunity, which could be 60% or 70%, is the real aim. It is possible to achieve that by December 2023, say experts, but only if the G7 leading economies move immediately to make it happen.
The Covax scheme under the UN umbrella should have been the route to vaccination for low-income countries. It was designed as their lifeline. Covax signed contracts with manufacturers to buy 2bn doses by the end of this year. But it is stymied. Its main supplier is the Serum Institute of India, which is now churning out vaccines in response to the terrible surge in domestic cases and deaths and will not be able to fulfil its contracts to Covax or individual countries before the end of the year.
Dr Bruce Aylward, senior adviser to the director general of the World Health Organization, who is heavily involved in the vaccine efforts, said: “This is where the UK becomes really important and the G7, because right now we’ve got this gap of death. In June, July, August, September, there’s no vaccine out there for love nor money, in terms of being able to procure it.”
Read more of Sarah Boseley’s analysis here: Can we vaccinate the world against Covid by the end of 2022?