The World needs more deliveries, not pledges

Saturday, September 18, 2021
Weekly COVID Vaccine Research Update

  Confirmed Vaccine Purchases Confirmed Donations (by recipient, includes pledges)
High income countries 6.9 B 6.5 M
Upper  middle income countries 2.5 B 54 M
Lower middle income countries 2.6 B 63.9 M
Low income countries 238 M 64.9 M
COVAX 2.5 B 741 M


The world needs deliveries, not pledges

Authors: Andrea Taylor and Blen Biru

Deliveries of vaccine donations are more important than ever, given the persistent gaps in vaccine coverage globally and threat of the highly contagious delta variant. High-income countries, several of which control much of the manufacturing and existing supply of COVID-19 vaccines, have pledged hundreds of millions in dose donations to target low- and middle-income countries.

But it has been difficult to hold countries accountable for these pledges. Information on the shipment of doses has not been released with the same fanfare as the pledges themselves. Based on what we have seen so far, dose donations have been more about rhetoric than action.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen announced this week that the EU will increase its donation pledge by an additional 200 million doses (for mid-2022 delivery). However, the EU is woefully behind in fulfilling its existing pledge of either 200 or 250 million doses (depending on the source) for 2021 delivery, having delivered an estimated 18 million so far.

As the head of Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Dr. John Nkengasong said earlier this month, “Pledges do not put vaccines into people’s arms.”

As world leaders prepare for the Global Covid-19 Summit to be hosted by the US alongside the UN General Assembly this coming week, we are sure to see more donation pledges fly through speeches and press releases with language about our collective responsibility and how we are all in this together. But if the Summit’s goals are to be met, we need to see shipments, not pledges.

To better track progress on donations, we are excited to release new data this week, tracking deliveries of pledged vaccine donations. New charts on our Vaccine Donations page track progress by donating country and by category (right now we include G7 and top 10 donor countries, but we plan to add more categories next week). This allows comparison of the relative size of pledges and shipments, as well as progress toward fulfilling pledges. 

In the new visualizations, a bar chart shows the total number of doses shipped and pledged by country. The US stands out with by far the highest number of pledged doses, more than 600M. Even the amount of donations shipped so far by the US (110M doses) exceeds the amount pledged by any other country. 

Donut charts show the progress toward meeting donation pledges. Among the top 10 donor countries, China leads by proportion of pledged donations shipped, with 75% of its pledged donations delivered. Japan follows at 50% and then there is a steep drop to Canada at 19%, the US at 17% and Italy at 12%. To be clear: as we near the fourth quarter of 2021, fulling 12% of vaccine donation pledges is enough to land a country in the top 5. 

Among G7 countries, all except Japan have shipped less than 20% of their pledges. Based on the reports we were able to find, the UK brings up the rear with 3% delivered. The data show that there is a long way to go, especially for G7 countries, at risk of pledges being empty promises.

Chairwoman of the African Vaccine Delivery Alliance Dr. Ayoade Olatunbosun-Alakija said this week, “Ask the rich countries: Where are Africa’s vaccines? Where are the vaccines for the low- and middle-income countries of the world?” The upcoming Global COVID-19 Summit must answer these questions and demonstrate the political will necessary to move vaccine doses where they are most desperately needed. For everyone’s sake, countries must be accountable for the commitments they make to vaccine access around the world. 


  • The US is hosting a global virtual summit – the Global COVID-19 Summit: Ending the Pandemic and Building Back Better, to bring world leaders together and make commitments to end the pandemic.
  • The International Monetary Fund, World Bank, World Health Organization, and World Trade Organization released a joint statement about the dire state of vaccine access in most of the world and noting that the 2021 40% target is at serious risk, calling on countries with vaccines to urgently share.  
  • A perspectives piece published by leading global scientists in the Lancet summarizes evidence that the vaccines remain effective against the new variants and that booster shots are not warranted at this stage of the pandemic for the general public.
  • A study released this week by the UK’s Office for National Statistics found that full vaccination against COVID-19 is highly effective in preventing death. Analysis of nearly 300,000 deaths between January and July 2021 found that COVID-19 accounted for 37% of deaths among unvaccinated people but less than 1% among those fully vaccinated.
  • The UK overturned its decision on youth vaccinations and has announced that children of ages 12-15 are now eligible for a single shot COVID vaccine. Second shots might be administered based on additional evidence.
  • Australia also opened vaccinations for 12- to 15-year-olds.
  • A study published in Science warned that new variants could emerge from Africa if the continent falls behind the necessary pandemic response.
  • The US government moved to mandate vaccinations for much of the US workforce. A CNN poll revealed that more than half of Americans support vaccine mandates for large gatherings (office setting, schools, sport events, concerts).
  • Cases are surging in most parts of the US overburdening the healthcare system, leading to deployment of federal military to states such as Idaho and rationing care in Alaska.
  • Israel started administering 3rd shots in August and is preparing for a possible 4th round of doses in light of increased cases due to the Delta variant.
  • The UK canceled their Valneva COVID-19 vaccine purchase contract despite investing in a manufacturing center in Scotland to make the vaccine. Valneva claims the UK government cited a breach of the supply agreement when canceling, which Valneva denies.

For more information on our research on Covid-19 vaccine supply, please see