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With current vaccination rates, it could take 7 years to beat COVID-19

Syringe and dose of COVID-19 vaccine - the rate it's given is less than ideal
Photo via Alachua County/Flickr (Public Domain)

The pandemic has been dragging on for nearly a year now, and when several vaccine candidates began distribution around the globe, some people thought we were nearing the finish line. Based on a Bloomberg study of the current COVID vaccination rate, however, the pandemic could continue for a staggering seven more years.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has said that between 70%-85% of the population will need to be vaccinated before the world can return to pre-pandemic life. For us to reach this number at our current vaccination rate, the world could be looking at seven more years of COVID-19.

Some countries are faring far better in their sprint toward widespread inoculation. Israel, which has the highest vaccination rate in the world according to Bloomberg, is nearing a 75% vaccination rate. On the other side of the globe, Canada is seeing a much slower rollout. Based on the country’s most recent rate, it could take 10 years for Canada to reach 75% coverage.

As noted by Bloomberg, this is in large part due to fluctuations in vaccination rates. Delayed vaccine shipments were behind the dip in Canada’s timeline, but that doesn’t mean the country is on a good track. 

In the U.S., the current rate points to reaching the necessary threshold just before the end of 2021. Some states are faring far better than others, with many northern states prioritizing vaccinations more than their southern neighbors. The Wall Street Journal’s U.S. calculations are slightly less optimistic than Bloomberg’s, with an expectation that we could be into January 2022 before life returns to normal. 

The current vaccine rollout prioritizes richer Western countries, which means some locales will reach 75% immunity far sooner than others. It could take China seven years, all on its own, to reach a level of herd immunity. In Latvia, it could take almost nine years if vaccine rollout doesn’t change.

Bloomberg expects the COVID-19 vaccination rate to accelerate as more doses become available. Its data is based on two-shot doses, like those from Pfizer and Moderna, but the Johnson & Johnson one-shot vaccine could be approved for emergency use in February. Due to this, data for some countries is lacking. When single-shot doses are approved by the Food and Drug Administration, it will adjust the “number of doses required proportionate to its market share in each country.”

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Sources: Bloomberg, Wall Street Journal, New York Post


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