Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Corporate gatekeepers and big tech monopolists are making it more difficult than ever for independent media to survive. Please chip in today.

A nurse holds a vial of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine

A nurse holds a vial of the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine at a shopping center in Bogota, Colombia on June 4, 2021. (Photo: Juan Barreto/AFP via Getty Images)

'An Atrocity': Poor Go Without as Rich Nations Set to Let 100 Million Covid Vaccines Rot

"Poorer countries shouldn't have to wait until our doses are about to expire to vaccinate their populations."

Andrea Germanos

A new analysis projecting that 100 million Covid-19 vaccines stockpiled by rich nations and set to expire by the end of the year could be left to waste is prompting an outcry from social justice campaigners who warn of a potential "atrocity" as poor nations are refused access to doses.

The estimate released Sunday by science analytics company Airfinity came as tracking by Our World in Data showed that just 1.9% of people in low-income countries have received at least one dose. By contrast, 63% of people in the U.S. and 71% of those in the U.K. have received at least one jab.

Out of the 100 million vaccines set to expire by the end of the year, the European Union holds 41% and the United States 32%, Airfinity found.

According to Global Justice Now, the potential for the huge quantity of expired and unused doses is more damning evidence of vaccine inequity and underscores the need for governments do much more to get doses in the hands of lower-income countries including by supporting a waiver of intellectual property rules related to Covid-19 vaccines and technology.

"Rich countries like the U.K. are hoarding vaccines that are desperately needed in low- and middle-income countries. We should immediately hand doses over to Global South nations. But that alone will not be enough," Global Justice Now director Nick Dearden said in a statement Sunday.

"Wasting millions of doses that could be used to save lives would be an atrocity," he said, "but it's almost inevitable when a handful of rich country companies monopolize vaccine production."

"Poorer countries shouldn't have to wait until our doses are about to expire to vaccinate their populations," Dearden continued. "Many are capable of safely manufacturing vaccines if only we would waive intellectual property so vaccines can be produced patent-free in the countries that need them most."

That capability is clear, Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF), said in a statement last month.

"Setting up mRNA vaccine manufacturing capacity in Africa is absolutely possible," said Lara Dovifat, campaign manager with MSF's Access Campaign. She pointed to MSF's analysis demonstrating "that at least seven manufacturers in African countries currently meet the prerequisites to produce mRNA vaccines, if all necessary technology and training were openly shared."

Airfinity's projection came ahead of a Covid-19 virtual summit this week convened by U.S. President Joe Biden as member states gather for the United Nations General Assembly.


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

At Least 14 Children, 1 Teacher Killed by Gunman at Texas Elementary School

"They fucking failed our kids again," the father of a Parkland massacre victim fumed. "How many more times are we gonna sit back?... How many more times?"

Brett Wilkins ·


Two Years After George Floyd Murder, Biden to Issue Executive Order on Police Reform

"The entire culture and mentality needs to change to bring these words to life, and to save lives," said one civil liberties advocate.

Julia Conley ·


'Wholesale Fraud' in Michigan Governor Race Could Disqualify GOP Candidates

"It looks like the Republican clown car may be losing a few occupants."

Jessica Corbett ·


Atwood Releases Fire-Proof Copy of 'Handmaid's Tale' to Combat GOP Book-Banning

"To see her classic novel about the dangers of oppression reborn in this innovative, unburnable edition is a timely reminder of what's at stake in the battle against censorship."

Julia Conley ·


Map Shows Over 17 Million People in US Threatened by Toxic Fossil Fuel Pollution

"Living in close proximity to oil and gas development is a threat to public health."

Kenny Stancil ·

Common Dreams Logo