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85 Countries May Lack Vaccine Protection Through 2023

Source: Our World in Data

Note: COVID-19 doses administered by country income group

More than one billion COVID-19 vaccines have been administered worldwide, but only 0.31% have been administered in low-income countries. In comparison, high-income countries received more than 80% of administered vaccines to date, according to Our World in Data. On this trajectory, about 85 countries will not have vaccine coverage until 2023.

Africa has the slowest vaccination rate of all continents to date. The United Arab Emirates and Israel have administered the most vaccinations, followed by Bahrain and Mongolia. Low-income countries are relying on COVAX, an initiative that is facilitating equitable access to vaccines. 

The worldwide initiative pledged to make two billion vaccine doses available for delivery by the end of 2021. Over 90% of low-income countries asked COVAX for greater vaccination coverage to help protect against new variants. However, COVAX will need more investment and contributions from donor countries and the private sector to speed up vaccine distributions.

Smart Grid Technology Is Taking Off Globally

Renewable energy sources will account for 95% of the increase in power capacity through 2026. But changing energy supply and consumption patterns are complicating demand planning and investment decisions for the energy sector. This is exacerbated by more frequent climate-influenced operational disruptions and stricter sustainability regulations.

Furthermore, legacy grid infrastructure often struggles to keep pace with industry innovations, underscoring the importance of an accelerated yet considered transition towards a smarter, more resilient grid. Many countries across the world are already starting to transition: Canada is putting about $80 million toward utility modernization work; Sweden, Finland, Spain and Italy have installed smart meters at a rate of 95%; China is working to install 30GW of battery storage capacity over the next three years; and Mexico, Paraguay, El Salvador and Chile are aiming to only sell zero-emissions vehicles by 2040. 

To navigate this transition successfully, stakeholders across the value chain must balance the imperative to modernize with the financial obligation to capitalize on existing infrastructure assets. Expanded risks associated with the transition — new cyber vulnerabilities, data privacy protection obligations, and gaps in workforce talent — must also be mitigated.

Greenhouse Gases Hit Record Highs in 2021

For Earth Day 2022, the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has released a stark reminder of our impact on Earth’s climate: carbon dioxide and methane levels in the atmosphere again reached record highs in 2021. 

For the second year in a row, NOAA scientists measured the level of methane in the atmosphere and found the largest annual increase since NOAA started measuring methane in 1983. Methane levels averaged 1,896 parts per billion during 2021, or about 162% greater than pre-industrial levels (before 1750). Methane is a powerful greenhouse gas that traps heat in the Earth’s atmosphere, causing global warming.

Carbon dioxide, the primary driver of climate change, also hit a record high again last year at 414.7 parts per million. Carbon dioxide (CO2) has increased by about 50% since 1750, driven by fossil fuels and deforestation. This is more than carbon dioxide’s increase over the 20,000-year period from the Last Glacial Maximum to the Industrial Revolution. Scientists say that carbon dioxide emitted today will continue to warm the planet for thousands of years.

Last week, the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warned that the world had until 2030 to reduce our carbon emissions by 43%, or the goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius will be out of reach.

Half of US Taxpayers Pay 97% of Income Taxes

This week is the deadline for millions of U.S. taxpayers to pay their taxes. According to IRS data on income taxes in 2019, U.S. taxpayers paid $1.6 trillion in income taxes — and 96.9% of the taxes were paid by half of American taxpayers. The top one percent — Americans who earn $546,434 or more — earned one-fifth of all total adjusted gross income and paid 38.8% of all federal income taxes.

The share of income taxes paid by the high-income earners (the 1%) has increased over time. From 2001 to 2019, the 1% share rose from 33% to 38.8%. Over the same time period, their share of adjusted gross income also increased, from 17.4% to 20.1%.

The top 50% of taxpayers paid 97% of all income taxes, while the bottom 50% paid the remaining 3%. The bottom half of taxpayers — who earn below $44,269 a year — paid 3%, or slightly over $48 billion, of all federal individual income taxes. Their share of reported income decreased from 2001 to 2019, from 14.4% to 11.5%.

U.S. Labor Unions Have Highest Level of Support in Over 50 Years

Sixty-eight percent of Americans approve of labor unions, the highest level of approval in over 57 years, according to Gallup’s annual Work and Education poll. Americans’ approval of unions has been increasing over the last few years and is now at its highest point in more than half a century.

Gallup has been conducting surveys on labor unions since 1936; this year, Gallup measured the highest level of support since 1965 (71%). On average, more Americans approve of unions than disapprove — 2009 was the only year that approval for unions fell below majority level (48%).

Support for unions is highest among Democrats (90%), union members (86%), younger Americans between the ages of 18-34 (77%), and people with incomes under $40,000 a year (72%). Over half of Independents favor unions (66%), and Republicans are least likely to approve of them (47%).

Despite this approval rating, only 9% of U.S. adults report they are part of a union. Another 8% of U.S. adults say they live with a union member. Union members are more likely to have higher incomes than non-union workers: one in 10 adults with household incomes of $40,000 or more are union members.

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