COVID vaccination rates in the OECD - how fast are they getting on with it?

Robert Bender                       17 June 2021


On 13 June I downloaded the Johns Hopkins vaccination data again, to compare where countries were then against how much progress they had made on 28 May, 16 days earlier.


Several more OECD countries had reported to Johns Hopkins by then, so the data is more complete.


You’ll see in the first chart that Israel’s rollout looks as though it has stalled (it may be just tardiness in reporting, with the turbulence of a change of government this week, and a similar issue in Ireland) but there are now 5 countries with more than 40% of their people vaccinated, 1 with over 30% and 19 over 20%. So all these countries are well organised for mass-vaccination campaigns and look likely to achieve 70% by the end of the northern summer.


Much as was noted a fortnight ago, New Zealand, Japan and Australia all lag far behind the others.



Another way of comparing progress is to extract growth rates in the percentage of populations vaccinated over those 16 days: Iceland jabbed an extra 13% of their people over that short period, Latvia over 10%, 12 more countries over 8%, and 5 more over 4%. All of those countries are in Europe, though a few tail-enders are also in Europe – all with green columns. All of the non-European OECD members have lagged behind the progress achieved in Europe, and Australia is again the tail-ender, proceeding at a very slow pace because we are almost totally dependent on imports and they are arriving very slowly in small shipments.



This has big implications for the timing of Australia reopening its national borders, and also of other countries reopening their borders to Australians. The Australian government suggests sometime next year, but if this slow pace continues it might be a lot longer than that.


Epidemiology Prof David Hunter’s statement in the 17 June Age that a herd immunity of 90% may be essential to prevent rapid spread of new variants sets a very high barrier for us. At 2.64% on 13 June, there is only another 87.36% to go.


A friend sent me one of many papers on vaccination hesitancy, and it concludes that distrust of government, of big pharmaceutical companies, of doctors (as opposed to alternative therapy providers) and other “authorities” underlies much of the problem. Deep commitment to conspiracy theories is only a small part of it. The marketing campaigns of federal and state governments have been fairly consistent: get on with it. But the campaign needs to be a lot more aggressive to induce the reluctant to accept that they have a public duty to others, and it is not just about how they personally feel.