If we benchmark SA’s vaccine rollout against similar countries the picture is not pretty. In the second week of April fewer than 300,000 people, or 0.5% of the population, had been vaccinated. That compared to an average of 10% for 40 other upper-middle-income economies with populations of more than 1-million. The figure ranged widely, however, from a high of 44% in Serbia to 10%-15% in Brazil, Argentina and China, and under 1% in 20 other countries.

The most obvious explanation for SA’s slow rollout is that rich countries have hoarded vaccines. Vaccination rates correlate strongly with GDP per person. In high-income economies 33% of the population has been vaccinated; in lower-middle-income countries the figure drops to 5%, and in low-income economies to just 0.1%. High-income economies hold 6% of the global population but 60% of vaccinated individuals. Some countries, notably the US, have bought two or three times the doses they need...

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