To date Australia has fared relatively well by international standards in terms of its COVID-19 infection rates. Now, however, its vaccination progress does not compare so favourably to other countries. Charts showing Australia languishing at the bottom of a vaccination league table have been circulating widely online. The specimen below, which appeared in last weekend’s Saturday Paper, is a typical example.
The challenge when producing charts like this is that there are far too many countries to squeeze onto a bar chart, requiring a somewhat arbitrary choice of the countries to include. This chart suggests that Australia’s full vaccination rate is the worst and Chile’s is the best. Australia does not in fact have the lowest rate in the world, although it is the lowest among OECD countries. Chile, at the other end, is certainly doing very well, but is not the best in the world – that honour sits with Gibraltar (or Malta if we restrict to sovereign nations). Even considering only OECD countries, the chart omits Iceland and Israel which are both a little ahead of Chile.
So, how can we get a better picture covering all countries around the world? One approach is to use a map instead of a bar chart. The map below shows countries grouped into quintiles (five of them, of course), ranging from the 20% of countries with the lowest rates of vaccination through to the 20% of countries with the highest rates. On this basis, with a full vaccination rate of 7%, Australia just scrapes into the middle quintile along with countries with full vaccination rates ranging from 6-18%. So Australia may not be last in this “race”, but the countries with lower rates are all far poorer than Australia.
The striking band of top quintile blue between Russia and China is Mongolia, which has an interesting story behind its vaccination success (thanks to Dan for alerting me to that article).
Some notes on the data:
- The data here is all sourced from Our World in Data (OWID), which in turn sources data from national authorities. A significant number of countries do not appear in the dataset and these are likely to be countries with very low rates of vaccination. If this data were available it would push up Australia’s ranking.
- “Countries” includes dependencies (such as Gibraltar) and disputed territories not just widely recognised sovereign nations.
- OWID reports a vaccination rate for Gibraltar of over 100%. This appears to be because vaccination figures include guest workers and, given Gibraltar’s small population, this has a big impact on the rate. Since there continue to be some cases of COVID-19 among unvaccinated people in Gibraltar, the true rate must be below 100% but as I have seen some estimates that the figure is more like 90%, Gibraltar is probably still in the lead.
Possibly Related Posts (automatically generated):
- Online Data and Charts with Swivel (10 August 2008)
- Swine Flu League Table (15 June 2009)
- Is Australia taking its fair share of asylum-seekers? (16 October 2009)
- The Arms Trade (27 July 2009)