MINNEAPOLIS — President Biden landed in the United Kingdom Wednesday morning for the beginning of his first overseas trip since he took office.
He's expected to meet with leaders from around the world to discuss, among other things, a new global vaccine plan.
According to NBC News, the Biden team is planning to purchase 500 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine to donate to low income countries around the world.
The doses will be given to 92 different countries and the African Union and administered by the global humanitarian program COVAX, which has a goal of giving out more than 2 billion vaccine doses by the end of 2021.
Dr. Jeremy Youde, a global health professor and dean of the college of liberal arts at the University of Minnesota Duluth, says without the U.S. and other countries stepping in, some impoverished countries may not achieve herd immunity until several years from now.
“We’re looking at 2024 at the earliest,” Dr. Youde says.
“There are several reasons why this is happening. There is vaccine hesitancy that exists in pretty much any country in the world, but there is also the issue of global economics and countries simply not being able to get access to the vaccine, or not being able to afford it. There is also a lot of supply that is being bought up by other countries.”
Dr. Youde says the scarcity many other countries are experiencing right now may be difficult for Americans to understand, because the U.S. is so far ahead in terms of vaccination rates.
According to Johns Hopkins University, the U.S. ranks 8th in the world with about 43% of adults being fully vaccinated.
The worldwide average is just 6%, with countries like India sitting at 3.3%, Australia sitting at 2.5% and the three wealthiest countries in Africa, Egypt, Nigeria, and South Africa, all sitting at less than 1%.
Meanwhile, here in the United States, President Biden is hoping to achieve herd immunity in less than a month, with his goal of having 70% of all U.S. adults vaccinated by the 4th of July.
"We’re trending in the right direction and I'm hopeful that we'll get there, but to be realistic, it's going to be hard to get us to that 70% threshold,” Dr. Youde says.
Vaccination rates have gone down dramatically in recent weeks.
Back in April the U.S. daily vaccination rate reached 3 million vaccinations a day. Now, those numbers are down to about 1 million vaccinations a day.
But while the vaccination rate is doing down, Dr. Youde expects we will reach the 70% threshold someday, and a lot sooner than most other countries.
Even Mississippi, the state with the lowest numbers in the nation, at 26.1%, is in a better position than most other countries.
According to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University, if Mississippi was its own country, it would rank 18th in the world in terms of adults being fully vaccinated. Ahead of countries like Switzerland, Spain and Denmark.
So, while the U.S. may not meet the president's goal, we're certainly ahead of the pack.
"It might not be by the 4th of July, but as time goes on, and some of those fears that people had become alleviated, we're going to be at a better position to hit that point,” Dr. Youde says.
In terms of sheer numbers, the U.S. is 1st in the world with more than 140 million people vaccinated.
After that, it's a big step down to India at 45 million and the United Kingdom at 28 million.
Japan, which is hosting the Olympics later this summer, is much further down the list, at 4.8 million.