The vaccination success stories: 5 countries who are defying the odds

It’s the quickest way out of the pandemic, but the global vaccination drive has hit many barriers since its launch a year ago.

Misinformation, lack of resources and even a fear of needles has stifled the vaccination rate, including in richer countries. In Africa, the WHO recently reported that just seven countries met their target of 40% by the end of 2021. The organization has called for an urgent campaign to increase inoculations before a new variant emerges.

But despite this bad news, there are some countries who have surpassed expectations, and delivered a higher-than-expected vaccination drive. Here are five of them.

Seychelles:  79.5%

Seychelles is one of the most glamorous tourist hotspots in the world. With its beautiful white, sandy beaches and lush forests, it’s no wonder the islands are a hit with rich entrepreneurs and those lucky enough to win a lottery jackpot.

It’s because of its reliance on tourism, though, that the archipelago nation was badly hit during the pandemic. Its economy suffered hugely in 2020, and there were fears that a lack of funds would hamper efforts to vaccinate its local population. 

The reality, though, has turned out to be different. The island nation started its vaccination program with a bang in early 2021: by mid-May, it had the highest percentage of vaccinated people per capita in the world. Over 60% of the population’s 100,000 residents had received two doses, a figure that the United States only reached very recently. 

It meant that Seychelles was ready for a spike in cases during the summer season, with patients reporting much lighter symptoms than before the vaccine drive. 

Ecuador: 77.6% 

The pandemic has hit Ecuador hard in 2020. It’s recorded over half a million cases in a country with only 17.8 million people. The good news is that its vaccination drive has been a huge success. As of the end of December 2021, almost 78% of its adult population had received two doses, although this was short of the government’s target of 85%.

The authorities have since introduced a vaccine mandate for citizens aged five and over, in a bid to get everyone protected. The country has said it has enough injections for everyone, but the measure is sure to be met with resistance from some of the population. 

There will be some exemptions, though. Citizens with pre-existing medical conditions can get opt out of the injection with a doctor’s certificate. Still, Ecuador is on course to be the most vaccinated country in Latin America by the end of 2022. 

Peru: 65.9%

Speaking of countries hit hard by the virus, Peru has the highest death rate per capita in the world with over 6,000 people in every million dying of the disease: over 200,000 in total. Experts believe that structural weaknesses in the country’s health situation and infrastructure problems contributed to the high death toll. 

Such a horrific turn of events is probably what inspired the country’s high vaccine take-up. Two-thirds of the country’s population has had two shots as of the end of 2021, resulting in cases falling and stabilising at a low level. 

Peru isn’t out of the woods yet, though. The Omicron variant risks severely testing its health services once again as the country looks to roll out its booster campaign.

Botswana: 43.2%

Botswana’s program has been held up as a shining example to other African nations – and it appears that careful planning was key.

The country’s impressive roll-out was helped by National Vaccine Deployment Plan which was ready a month before the first vaccines arrived. It included surveys to find out the public perception of the vaccines, and then an ‘ArmReady’ campaign which worked on tackling pockets of resistance.

The result has been a jab rate of over 40% of the population, one of the highest rates in Africa. It’s a fine achievement considering difficulties in supplying the vaccines to many African nations: the continent has received only 3% of the world’s total supply.

While Botswana continues to tackle the huge problems Covid has caused, it appears battle-ready to take on a campaign of booster doses.

Rwanda: 42.15%

Rwanda is famous for several things, its beautiful Akagera national park being one of them. Positive political will probably isn’t one of them, though.

That may be about to change following the nation’s superb vaccination drive which has seen over 5.5 million Rwandans receive both doses. Eight different vaccines have done their work to make sure the population is one of the most protected on the continent. The result has been put down to excellent work from the country’s authorities, who have been the large demand for vaccines with an efficient roll-out. 

It means Rwanda is one of the few African nations to meet the WHO’s target, and the country is feeling upbeat heading into 2022.