Manufacturers of Covid-19 vaccines say they’re now producing 1.5 billion doses a month and will have made 12 billion doses by the end of the year. In theory, that would be enough to meet the World Health Organization’s goal of vaccinating 70% of the global population. The challenge is to ensure these vaccines go where they’re needed. Most of the doses coming off production lines appear headed for wealthy countries that will soon have more than enough.

By the end of the year, the US, UK, European Union, Canada and Japan could find themselves with more than 600 million excess doses, beyond what they’ve already promised to donate, even after offering booster shots. At that point, 20% of them may be too old to be used elsewhere. The G-7 countries have so far delivered less than 15% of the nearly 1.7 billion doses they’ve promised to give to low- and middle-income countries.

Much of the developing world remains almost defenseless against Covid-19. Countries accounting for 40% of the world’s population have administered two-thirds of vaccinations to date. Some 56 nations, mostly in Africa and the Middle East, have vaccinated less than 10% of their populations. United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres calls this “immoral” and “stupid,” and he’s right. Vast numbers are dying needlessly as the delta variant courses through the developing world, to say nothing of the blow to the global economy and the potential for even more dangerous variants to emerge.

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