COVID-19 Vaccine Development and Rollout in Historical Perspective

In mid-2022, profound inequities in the pace and level of coverage of COVID-19 vaccination persist, especially in the world’s poorest countries. Yet despite this inequity, we find that global COVID-19 vaccine development and diffusion has been the most rapid in history, everywhere. This paper explores the historical record in the development and deployment of vaccines globally, and puts the COVID-19 vaccine rollout in that context. Although far more can and should be done to drive higher coverage in the lowest-income countries, it is worth noting the revolutionary speed of both the vaccine development and diffusion process, and the potential good news that this signals for the future of pandemic preparedness and response.

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This paper was originally published in February 2022. It was updated in June 2022. The original version can be viewed here.

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