Vaccinating the World: How Does the U.S. Stack Up Against Other Donors?
As Congress and the administration debate future funding for the global COVID-19 response, including for vaccines, we looked at how the U.S. stacks up against other donors on helping to vaccinate the world. Indeed, President Biden has convened global leaders to push for vaccination, among other COVID-19 efforts, to help achieve global vaccination coverage of 70% by September 2022, and re-emphasized the U.S.’s global efforts in the recently released “National COVID-19 Preparedness Plan”. Here, we examine how much funding for vaccines as well as vaccine doses have been allocated. For funding, we include only financial commitments made to the COVAX Advance Market Commitment (AMC); while several donors report having committed additional funds outside of the AMC for vaccine readiness and other activities (including the U.S., Germany, and Australia), there is no centralized database available with such data from all donors. For donated doses, we include those doses pledged to COVAX, other multilateral mechanisms such as the African Vaccine Acquisition Trust (AVAT), and bilaterally (see Methods for more information). We look at the overall shares provided by the U.S., as well as others, and also standardize contributions by the size of donor economies. We find that while the U.S. has contributed far more than any other donor, its rank falls considerably when standardized by GDP:
- As of March 3, 2022, donors have provided an estimated $11.0 billion in financial assistance to the COVAX AMC for vaccination efforts and pledged to donate 2.1 billion doses to COVAX, other multilateral entities, and bilaterally (see Appendix).
- By share of contributions, the U.S. ranks at the top, accounting for 36% of funding ($4.0 billion) and 41% of pledged doses (857.5 million) (see Figures 1 and 2).1
- The U.S. share is greater than its share of global GDP (24%), and significantly above the next largest donor, Germany (at 11% of financial contributions and 8% of doses).
- However, when standardized by the size of the U.S. economy (per $1 million GDP), the U.S. no longer ranks at the top, falling in rank for both financial contributions and pledged doses (see Figures 3 and 4).
- The top financial contributor, per $1 million GDP, is Sweden, followed by Norway, Kuwait, Germany, Iceland, the U.K., Canada, Italy, Switzerland, Japan, and Saudi Arabia. The U.S. ranks 12th in financial contributions when standardized, and Sweden’s financial contribution is nearly five times that of the U.S.
- The U.S. falls to 6th when ranked by pledged doses per $1 million GDP and is more in line, but still lower than, other large economies such as Germany and France. By this measure, Bhutan ranks first, followed by the Maldives, Germany, France, New Zealand, and then the U.S.
As Congress and the administration continue to debate whether to provide additional emergency funding for global COVID-19 efforts, this analysis may offer new insight into considerations for future U.S. support. As we show here, the U.S. is by far the largest donor in absolute measures, but much less generous when standardized by its economy. Of course there is no perfect metric for assessing fair share in the context of a global pandemic, and none of these measures (or those used by others in the global community) is able to fully capture both the economic and non-economic benefits that would accrue to all if COVID-19 were to truly be controlled. With only 13% of those in low and middle income countries having received at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose to date, the stakes remain quite high.
|Financial data were obtained from the Gavi COVAX AMC Donor Table (see here). Donors may be providing additional resources for global COVID-19 vaccination outside of the COVAX AMC as well (e.g. for vaccine readiness efforts). For example, the U.S. government reports that it has allocated more than US$800 million, Australia reports allocating at least US$380 million, and Germany US$245 million. However, since there is no centralized database available for these contributions for all donors, they are not included in this analysis. We also did not include funding commitments from the World Bank or other multilateral development banks (the World Bank estimates, for example, that it has provided $3.9 billion in grants for vaccines), which are in large part derived from donor governments’ general financing of MDBs but represent additional financing.
COVID-19 vaccine dose donation data are from the UNICEF COVID-19 Vaccine Market Dashboard (see here) for bilateral donations and the Gavi Dose Donations Pledge Table (see here) for donations provided through COVAX.
Gross Domestic Product (GDP) data are from the IMF World Economic Outlook Database (see here). Totals are in current US dollars for 2021 (where 2021 data were not available, 2020 data were used).
While the U.S. has committed to donating more than 1.1 billion COVID-19 vaccine doses, some of these doses were purchased using funds appropriated to Gavi. For this reason, only a portion of the total 1.1 billion doses is considered a donation.