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COVID’s Haves and Have-Nots
To End the Pandemic, Rich Countries Must Pay to Vaccinate Poor Ones
By
Rajiv J. Shah

June 4, 2021
Filipinos register for COVID-19 vaccines at a cinema-turned-vaccination site in Manila, Philippines, June 2021 
Eloisa Lopez / Reuters
Since the United States began COVID-19 immunizations in December, more than 297 million vaccine doses have been administered nationwide. As of this writing, 41 percent of U.S. residents are fully vaccinated and returning mask free to businesses, bars, and ballparks. They’re not alone: in a handful of wealthier countries with high vaccination rates, including the United Kingdom (39 percent), Israel (57 percent), and the United Arab Emirates (63 percent), life is steadily returning to normal.
But vast swaths of the world remain unvaccinated, and the emergence of dangerous new coronavirus strains has exposed dramatic inequities in global access to vaccines. In India, where just over three percent of the population is fully vaccinated against COVID-19, the virulent B.1.617 variant has been devastating, leaving funeral pyres afire 24 hours a day in many Indian cities. Similar deadly scenarios now threaten to play out in other developing countries with low vaccination rates, including Brazil (11 percent), Colombia (seven percent), and Nepal (three percent).
There is wide agreement that vaccinating the world is the only way to end the pandemic. But no one has yet operationalized a plan or marshaled the support to achieve it. The result is a world divided into two parts: one vaccinated and the
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RAJIV J. SHAH is President of the Rockefeller Foundation. He previously served as Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development.
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