Public health officials warned us — when it comes to getting a COVID-19 vaccine, it’ll be famine or feast.
When we all wanted the shots — it was famine. Now that we have them, it’s a feast — to the point where we can look at the G7 nations (the US, the UK, Canada, France, Germany, Italy and Japan) that have bought one-third of the world’s supply (but make up 13 percent of the world’s population), and wonder, OK, what next?
U.S. vaccination rates fell off to two-thirds of our April peak in every state. Some states are crawling; a dozen are below 15 daily vaccinations per 10,000 people, Alabama is down to four per 10,000, reports The Washington Post. The number of adults who got their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine only rose 1 percent from last week to this one, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — from 62 to 63 percent.
This falls short of the 70 percent goal, but experts now turn their eyes to the globe, as many countries are still in famine mode — and ours dawdles largely by choice.
Logic would have that we simply ship our excess off but of course, it’s not that simple.
Vaccine wastage — thrown away doses resulting from issues in transportation, storage and delivery — is problematic both at home and abroad.
Quartz reports that CDC numbers show 1.55 million doses wasted as of May 24 (out of more than 353 million doses), which is probably a low-ball estimate, according to Tinglong Dai, a Johns Hopkins Carey Business School professor who guesses wastage closer to 5 percent.
Not all waste equally — Kaiser Health News reporting found most U.S. vaccine wasted in CVS and Walgreens chains, which wasted more vaccines than combining all the local, state and federal agencies.
Elsewhere, France’s rates are 25 percent, and some states in India are getting fewer vaccines because of their high wastage rates, even as the country experiences a horrific surge in COVID-19 transmission.
Issues in storage and transit worsen the farther afield vaccine travels, so it’s imperative that we privileged nations look beyond the feast or famine model. We need to be steady and slow, and allow receiving countries to develop distribution strategies that work for them.
We tend to agree with famous footballer David Beckham who loaned his name to a Unicef push for the G7 countries to donate 20 percent of doses by August, according to The National.
“The pandemic will not be over anywhere until it is over everywhere.”