People wait for their vaccine jabs in Bangkok, Thailand, on December 21(XINHUA)
New COVID-19 variants such as Delta and Omicron flooded the world throughout the year, sparking significantly higher infection rates. Since the first reported infections in December 2019, the world has seen over 280 million confirmed cases, including over 5.4 million deaths, and the administration of over 8 billion vaccine doses, according to the World Health Organization.
The pandemic further brought on a severe shipping container shortage and port backups, highlighting the continuous faltering of supply chains.
Meanwhile, vaccine distribution worldwide remained extremely unbalanced, with wealthy countries hoarding vaccines to issue booster shots and the inoculation rate in developing countries lingering on the lowest end of the spectrum. For example, as of December 9, only 7.5 percent of more than 1.2 billion people across Africa had received their primary vaccine shots.