China has now delivered more than 1 billion vaccine doses, hitting that Covid-19 milestone the same weekend that Brazil passed one of its own: more than 500,000 deaths. Daily case numbers remain worryingly high, and those hospitalized and dying include larger numbers of young people. India, meanwhile, is at risk of a third wave of infections sooner than predicted, after a devastating second.
The end of the pandemic is almost here. But the tail is long and — thanks to short-sighted global and national policies — this phase is no more of a “great equalizer” than the start was. Blame uneven access to immunization made worse by vaccine nationalism as rich governments focus on domestic needs. Insufficient state capacity, poor logistics, and distrust and misinformation, often fueled by populist leaders, have left millions behind and widened existing gaps in the global economy. Then there are insular policies in places like Australia or Hong Kong that focus on zero cases, making them reluctant to open up, discouraging vaccination and prolonging the endgame.