More people are now vaccinated against COVID-19 than have been infected by the virus that has swept the globe over the past year, a milestone on the road to ending the pandemic.
Despite the landmark data, it remains unclear how long it will take to vaccinate the world. Many of those vaccinated have received only one of two doses required.
A total of 104.9 million vaccine doses have been administered, according to University of Oxford-based Our World in Data and the latest data on Wednesday from the US-based Centre for Disease Control and Prevention.
The total vaccinated now exceeds the 104.1 million COVID-19 cases of infection.
COVID-19 infections are still rising in 44 countries and the virus has killed at least 2.26 million people globally, according to Reuters’ tracker.
Health experts are racing to vaccinate as many as possible in the face of new variants that are more contagious.
Duke University’s Global Health Innovation Centre confirms global purchases of 7.7 billion doses with another 5 billion doses under negotiation or reserved as optional expansions of existing deals.
Israel leads the world, having administered enough vaccine doses for 28 per cent of its population, assuming every person needs two doses, according to Our World in Data.
World Health Organisation Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus appealed on Tuesday for greater co-operation between nations to achieve worldwide vaccination at a scale needed to end the pandemic.
“Despite the growing number of vaccine options, current manufacturing capacity meets only a fraction of global need,” he wrote in Foreign Policy magazine.
“Allowing the majority of the world’s population to go unvaccinated will not only perpetuate needless illness and deaths and the pain of ongoing lockdowns but also spawn new virus mutations as COVID-19 continues to spread among unprotected populations,” he wrote.
Rich countries squabbling over COVID-19 vaccine supplies must consider the situation in poorer parts of the world, the WHO says, warning hoarding of shots “keeps the pandemic burning”.