Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Dear Common Dreams Readers:
Corporations and billionaires have their own media. Shouldn't we? When you “follow the money” that funds our independent journalism, it all leads back to this: people like you. Our supporters are what allows us to produce journalism in the public interest that is beholden only to people, our planet, and the common good. Please support our Mid-Year Campaign so that we always have a newsroom for the people that is funded by the people. Thank you for your support. --Jon Queally, managing editor

Join the small group of generous readers who donate, keeping Common Dreams free for millions of people each year. Without your help, we won’t survive.

Botswana health official receives the coronavirus vaccine.

Minister of Health and Wellness Edwin Dikoloti receives the Covid-19 vaccine in Gaborone, Botswana, on March 26, 2021. (Photo: Tshekiso Tebalo/Xinhua via Getty)

Number of Covid Boosters Given in US Exceeds Single Shots in 8 African Nations Combined

"Our leaders' failure to help bring the vaccines to everyone, everywhere will keep us on a cruel and never-ending cycle of illness, death, and economic suffering."

Jake Johnson

An analysis released Monday shows that the number of Americans who have received a coronavirus booster shot to date exceeds the number of people who have gotten a single vaccine dose in eight countries in southern Africa combined, a finding that came as the international community grappled with the threat posed by Omicron.

"If we do not vaccinate the world as quickly as possible, Covid will continue to threaten us all."

According to a Public Citizen review of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data, around 37 million people have received a booster shot in the U.S., which has authorized boosters for its entire adult population.

Meanwhile, just 30 million people in Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, and Zimbabwe—the eight countries on the Biden administration's new travel restriction list—have received at least one coronavirus vaccine dose. The Omicron variant, which the World Health Organization has deemed a "very high" global risk, was first detected in southern Africa—though its origins are not clear.

Zain Rizvi, research director at Public Citizen and author of the new analysis, said the figures throw the global inoculation gap into sharp relief and further demonstrate that the U.S. remains well short of its promise to act as the world's vaccine "arsenal."

"The emergence of the new coronavirus variant, Omicron, has exposed the risks of an unvaccinated world," said Rizvi. "Since the start of the pandemic, the U.S. has sent 11.2 million doses to those eight countries in southern Africa. That is less than what the U.S. distributed at home in one week in November (Nov. 17 – 24)."

In August, the Biden administration dismissed the WHO's call for a temporary moratorium on booster shots, a demand aimed at freeing up additional vaccine supply for low-income nations that have been denied sufficient access. White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said the WHO's recommendation presented a "false choice" between boosters and adequate global vaccination.

"But until the U.S. government uses its power under the Defense Production Act to share the vaccine recipe and make surge investments in global vaccine production," Rizvi argued Monday, "that choice will remain true—and only become increasingly stark."

The Public Citizen analysis was published as President Joe Biden said in a speech that the Omicron variant is "a cause for concern, not a cause for panic," stressing that "we have the best vaccine in the world, the best medicines, the best scientists."

But the president's words were likely cold comfort for nations that don't have enough vaccine doses in large part because of hoarding by rich countries—including the U.S.—and pharmaceutical companies' refusal to share key technology. Just 27% of all health workers on the African continent have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19, according to the WHO.

Robbie Silverman, senior manager of private sector advocacy at Oxfam America, said in a statement Monday that the emergence of the Omicron variant "affirms what many of world's leading scientists, public health officials, doctors, nurses, and economists have been saying since the beginning of the pandemic: if we do not vaccinate the world as quickly as possible, Covid will continue to threaten us all."

"Our leaders' failure to help bring the vaccines to everyone, everywhere will keep us on a cruel and never-ending cycle of illness, death, and economic suffering. Omicron must be the wake-up call. We need President Biden to lead in negotiating a comprehensive TRIPS waiver at the [World Trade Organization] and press for the sharing of all vaccine technologies immediately. No one is safe until everyone is safe."


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

"I'm sure this will be all over the corporate media, right?"
That’s what one longtime Common Dreams reader said yesterday after the newsroom reported on new research showing how corporate price gouging surged to a nearly 70-year high in 2021. While major broadcasters, newspapers, and other outlets continue to carry water for their corporate advertisers when they report on issues like inflation, economic inequality, and the climate emergency, our independence empowers us to provide you stories and perspectives that powerful interests don’t want you to have. But this independence is only possible because of support from readers like you. You make the difference. If our support dries up, so will we. Our crucial Mid-Year Campaign is now underway and we are in emergency mode to make sure we raise the necessary funds so that every day we can bring you the stories that corporate, for-profit outlets ignore and neglect. Please, if you can, support Common Dreams today.

 

Abortion Rights Defenders Applaud Judge's Block on Utah 'Trigger Ban'

"Today is a win, but it is only the first step in what will undoubtedly be a long and difficult fight," said one pro-choice advocate.

Brett Wilkins ·


Scores Feared Dead and Wounded as Russian Missiles Hit Ukraine Shopping Center

"People just burned alive," said Ukraine's interior minister, while the head of the Poltava region stated that "it is too early to talk about the final number of the killed."

Brett Wilkins ·


Biodiversity Risks Could Persist for Decades After Global Temperature Peak

One study co-author said the findings "should act as a wake-up call that delaying emissions cuts will mean a temperature overshoot that comes at an astronomical cost to nature and humans that unproven negative emission technologies cannot simply reverse."

Jessica Corbett ·


Amnesty Report Demands Biden Take Action to End Death Penalty

"The world is waiting for the USA to do what almost 100 countries have achieved during this past half-century—total abolition of the death penalty," said the group.

Julia Conley ·


Pointing to 'Recently Obtained Evidence,' Jan. 6 Panel Calls Surprise Tuesday Hearing

The announcement came less than a week after the House panel delayed new hearings until next month, citing a "deluge" of fresh evidence.

Common Dreams staff ·

Common Dreams Logo