COVID-19: Nearly 1 billion still without any vaccination in Asia Pacific

A migrant worker winces as she is injected with the COVID-19 vaccine by a nurse from the Thai Red Cross, Bangkok, Thailand. 16 November 2021

A migrant worker winces as she is injected with the COVID-19 vaccine by a nurse from the Thai Red Cross, Bangkok, Thailand. 16 November 2021

Photo: Nanai Damkliang/ Thai Red Cross Society

A new analysis by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) reveals that nearly 1 billion people in Asia and the Pacific are yet to receive a single dose of COVID -19 vaccine and remain at risk of serious illness and death.

Globally, less than 20 percent of the population have received a single dose in low-income countries, according to Oxford University’s Our World in Data.

The IFRC is calling for all governments and pharmaceutical companies to act now to achieve greater vaccine equity.

John Fleming, IFRC’s Asia Pacific Head of Health, said:

“The COVID vaccine has been one of the most remarkable feats of modern science and it is saving millions of lives but too many people are still living in danger.

“It is critical for humanity and for economies that people have access to COVID-19 vaccines in all countries. Vaccine equity is the key to winning the race against new variants.”

“We urge richer nations to urgently step up and enable equitable access to lifesaving COVID vaccines for everyone in lower income countries.”

“Unless we prioritise protection of the most vulnerable in every country, the administration of multiple booster doses in richer countries is like applying a bandaid to a festering wound.”

Globally, slightly over 5 million COVID-19 doses are now administered every day. While some high-income countries including Canada and Australia have purchased around 10 COVID vaccine doses per person, others such as Bangladesh, Indonesia, and Myanmar have purchased less than two vaccinations per person, according to Duke University’s Launch and Scale Speedometer.

More than 6 million deaths are recorded globally, however the World Health Organization estimates that 14.9 million lives have been lost due to the pandemic. COVID infections are rising in almost 70 countries in all regions according to the WHO.

“If we want to end this pandemic once and for all, we need to urgently address hesitancy in every country, strengthen local delivery to get doses into arms and transfer vaccine and anti-viral drugs technology to manufacturers in low-income nations,” said Mr Fleming.

“There has been remarkable cooperation between countries around the world but this pandemic is not over and much greater action is needed by leaders in richer countries and pharmaceutical companies to enable equal access to vaccines for people everywhere.”

Coinciding with the IFRC calls for greater action on vaccine equity, a new animation video has been released highlighting the urgent need to get vaccines to everyone in all corners of every country. The video can be viewed and downloaded here.

Globally, Red Cross and Red Crescent National Societies have supported more than 400 million people to access COVID-19 vaccines. The network continues to deliver vaccines, tests and treatments to the most vulnerable and is helping to rebuild stronger health systems.


For more information or to arrange an interview, contact:

In Bangkok: Preeti Abraham, +66 61 412 3910, [email protected]

In Kuala Lumpur: Rachel Punitha, +60 19 791 3830, [email protected]


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