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Thinking in Print: Boot the boosters for now

Editor’s Note: The statistics in this article are subject to change. Always consult sources directly for the most up-to-date pandemic information.

The most effective way for the world to return to normalcy is through getting vaccinated. Recently, President Joe Biden has announced plans to administer booster shots to increase immunity while in the U.K., boosters are already approved. Despite this push for booster shots, much of the world remains unvaccinated and unable to access vaccines, which will drag out the pandemic.

Earlier this September, Our World In Data reported 27.6% of the world’s population had received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. However, when that percentage is broken down by country income, only 1.1% of those living in low-income countries have received at least one dose.

I would hope this low number on its own would encourage people to send more vaccines to these countries for the sake of saving lives, but some might think it’s not their problem. After all, America is over 53% vaccinated, so remaining in the country and taking precautions is safe, right? 

No. COVID-19 variants — which are partly responsible for dragging out the pandemic — thrive in low-vaccinated areas. Without the vaccine, COVID-19 is able to quickly replicate itself and, the more it replicates, the higher the chance for it to mutate into a more resistant and dangerous variant. The Delta variant that is currently wreaking havoc in America is believed to have originated in India — which has only about 39% of people vaccinated — while the Mu variant is allegedly from Columbia, which is also mostly unvaccinated at 36%.

Until the world is vaccinated, deadly variants of COVID-19 will continue to crop up and spread to richer countries that falsely believe their high vaccination rates will put the pandemic in the past. It’s estimated that vaccines will be available to lower-income countries by the end of 2022, but in a world of social distancing and fear, that seems like a lifetime away. Of course, these inconveniences pale in comparison to the death and suffering said lower-income nations are experiencing and will continue to suffer from until they get the protection they need.

The lack of vaccines in lower-income countries is influenced by many factors, including other countries ordering far more doses than they need. The U.S. paid for enough vaccines to cover double its population while the U.K. and Canada paid for four and fives times their populations, respectively. Couple this with 1 million doses being wasted since December in the U.S. alone, and it becomes clear that there are plenty of vaccines available. They just aren’t available in the places that need them most.

COVID-19 is a global pandemic, and it will take a global effort to end it. President Biden said America has donated more vaccines than any country, but it’s not enough. Before the nations that can afford it administer booster shots, lower-income countries should at least have the opportunity to be vaccinated.

Charlene Pepiot is a senior studying English at Ohio University. Please note that the views and opinions of the columnists do not reflect those of The Post. Want to talk more about it? Let Charlene know by emailing her, cp872117@ohio.edu.

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