NEW DELHI: The drive to vaccinate people has begun in several parts of the world. Several countries such as China, United States, United Kingdom are already in process of inoculating their citizens en masse.
In India, the vaccination process is about to start after the national drug regulatory agency approved two vaccines — Oxford-Astrazeneca's Covishield and Bharat Biotech's Covaxin.
So far, over 10.8 million doses across 29 countries have already been administered. China leads the race with over 4.5 million vaccines. Israel, with a population of 8.65 million people, has already vaccinated over 11% of its population.
We look at how different countries are rolling out their coronavirus vaccine programmes.
Over 10 million vaccines doses administered
The Chinese vaccination programme, which was the first in the world, has raised several doubts over its effectiveness and safety. The data around the trials and efficacy of the vaccines have been shrouded in secrecy. The country started its vaccination programme in July aimed at essential workers. According to reports, Beijing plans to vaccinate over 50 million people by mid-February.
In the United States, the programme began on December 14, following the approval of Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine for emergency use. Israel, which has so far vaccinated nearly 11% of its population, has administered over a million doses. The UK, where the virus has once again wreaked havoc following the discovery of a new strain, has also used over a million vaccine doses till January 1.
It is pertinent to note that the number of vaccine doses is not equal to the number of people vaccinated. A majority of the vaccines approved so far requires two doses — given weeks apart — to complete the vaccination process.
Vaccination drive yet to start in major part of the world
Twenty-nine countries have started the coronavirus vaccination programme. The drive has started in much of North America and Europe; few countries in the Middle East and South America; and Russia and China.
In India, two vaccines — Bharat Biotech's Covaxin and Serum Institute/Oxford-AstraZeneca's Covishield — have been approved by the national drug regulatory agency.
Israel could become the first country to vaccinate its entire population
Israel could well become the first country to be fully vaccinated against Covid-19, health officials said on Thursday, with over 10% (1 million) of the population already having received the first of two doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine by the 12th day of a vaccination programme, which began on December 20.
Israel is followed by Bahrain, which as vaccinated nearly 3.5% of its population. However, these are early days and it is expected that the vaccination programme will pick pace in the coming months.
Equal access to vaccines a major challenge
Equal distribution of vaccines to all countries of the world is one of the most daunting challenges the world faces in eradicating novel coronavirus. Several countries have signed advanced contracts with drug manufacturing companies for coronavirus doses. Several North American and European nations have secured contracts covering more than 100% of their population. Canada has secured contracts that can vaccinate 300% of its population. There are 39 nations, which have secured contracts to cover more than 100% of their population.
On the other hand, a majority of the nations (95), as per the vaccine contracts secured so far, would find it difficult to vaccinate even 5% of their population. A large number of these countries are in Africa and the Middle East.
China gave approval to vaccine before completion of trials in June
There are hundreds of vaccine programmes at various stages of development. In China, the vaccination programme started in June when the country started administering vaccine by CanSino Biologics to its military. In August, China approved two more vaccines — Sinovac Biotech and Sinopharm. These two vaccines were also approved before their trials were completed.
In Russia, Gamaleya is a variation of the Russian vaccine, known as Sputnik V. It was approved in August, before the completion of its trial.
Most of these vaccines can be stored at 2-8 degrees Celsius and require two doses.