Research Briefing | May 25, 2021

Global | Coronavirus Watch: The limits of vaccines

Vaccines are the key to a safe and permanent transition to more normal conditions. But evidence from economies that already have implemented widespread vaccine rollouts confirms our long-held view that high vaccination rates will not be the sole factor.

Of the 20 economies that have delivered the swiftest rollouts, nine are small states with patchy data. Of the remaining 11, only five now have lower daily Covid cases than they did at the point they began vaccinations. On mortality rates, the equivalent figure is just six.

Lockdown stringency scores suggest an over-eagerness to lift restrictions has not necessarily been the reason for the worsening health situation in some of these economies. Also, the presence of several new variants in the UK, US, and Israel, which have recorded large falls in cases and deaths this year, suggests the spread of variants isn’t solely to blame.

Estimates that the first dose of the Sinopharm vaccine may be just 3% effective in preventing infection could explain why some economies have seen high vaccine take-up but surging cases. And new variants may have reduced the efficacy of some individual vaccines, also lowering immunity.

In all, the experiences of economies such as Israel provides grounds for optimism. But at the same time, developments in other economies show that a corner will not be turned simply by reaching a specific vaccine threshold.

 

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