US President Joe Biden is on a mission to get the world vaccinated, pledging to buy another 500 million doses to share as promising data showed infections appeared to be declining in all regions of the globe.
Mr Biden said the US would double its purchase of Pfizer for donations as he embraces the goal of vaccinating 70 per cent of the global population within the next year.
Many wealthier countries have single dosed more than half their populations but the jab rate in poorer countries is just 2 per cent, according to data from the University of Oxford.
At a virtual global vaccination summit on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly, Mr Biden encouraged well-off countries to do more to get the coronavirus under control.
“To beat the pandemic here, we need to beat it everywhere,” Mr Biden said.
He added that with the new commitments, “For every one shot we’ve administered to date in America, we have now committed to do three shots to the rest of the world”.
World leaders, aid groups and global health organisations are growing increasingly vocal about the slow pace of global vaccinations and the inequity of access to shots.
The US purchase of another 500 million shots brings the total US vaccination commitment to more than 1.1 billion doses through 2022.
About 160 million shots supplied by the US have already been distributed to more than 100 countries, representing more donations than the rest of the world combined.
The remaining 500 million US doses will be distributed in the coming year.
The latest purchase reflects only a fraction of what will be necessary to meet a goal of vaccinating 70 per cent of the global population — and 70 per cent of the citizens of each countries — by next September’s UN meeting.
Australia nears vaccine milestone
Meanwhile Australia is approaching the vaccine milestone of 50 per cent double dose coverage.
Currently 48.5 per cent of the over-16 population have received both jabs, while 73.4 per cent have had a single shot.
A national reopening agreement has set 70 and 80 per cent double-dose coverage as crucial milestones to easing restrictions.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison, who is meeting with world leaders in the United States, continues to entice people to be vaccinated with the prospect of borders opening.
“We keep that up, people will be able to travel again. Particularly in those states that are achieving those marks,” he told reporters in Washington DC.
NSW reported 1035 new cases and five deaths on Wednesday, with the outbreak’s toll rising to 260.
Victoria, which has been rocked by violent anti-vaccination and anti-lockdown protests, detected 628 new local infections and three additional deaths.
There were 17 new cases in the ACT, while a NSW truck driver who visited WA last week tested positive.
Global infections decline
Global affections appear to be declining with the number of new cases continuing to fall last week, the World Health Organisation says.
Cases fell to 3.6 million, down from 4 million new infections the previous week, the first substantial decline for more than two months.
Infections dropped in every world region.
In its latest update on the pandemic, the WHO said there were major decreases in cases in two regions: a 22 per cent fall in the Middle East and a 16 per cent drop in Southeast Asia.
The UN health agency said there were just under 60,000 deaths in the past week, a 7 per cent decline.
It said that while Southeast Asia reported a 30 per cent decrease in COVID-19 deaths, the Western Pacific region reported a 7 per cent increase.
The most coronavirus cases were seen in the US, India, Britain, Turkey and the Philippines.
WHO said the faster-spreading Delta variant has now been seen in 185 countries and is present in every part of the world.
The organisation also revised its list of “variants of interest,” or those that it believes have the potential to cause big outbreaks; WHO said it’s tracking the lambda and mu variants, which both arose in Latin America but have yet to cause widespread epidemics.
WHO has previously said that in all countries where the Delta variant is circulating, it has become the predominant virus.