Fact Check: It's NOT 'Statistically IMPOSSIBLE' To Administer Billions Of COVID Vaccine Doses Since Pandemic Started

Fact Check

  • by: Ed Payne
Fact Check: It's NOT 'Statistically IMPOSSIBLE' To Administer Billions Of COVID Vaccine Doses Since Pandemic Started Lots Of Shots

Is it "Statistically IMPOSSIBLE" to have administered the billions of COVID-19 vaccine shots that have been provided around the world? No, that's not true: There's no evidence to suggest the global health care community isn't up to the task of delivering what Our World In Data, a website run by the United Kingdom's University of Oxford, says is 12.76 billion vaccine doses administered as of October 6, 2022.

The claim appeared in a Facebook post and video (archived here) published on September 29, 2022 under the title "➡️➡️➡️ YOU BETTER HOPE THIS IS TRUE‼️‼️ (Statistically IMPOSSIBLE for them to have administered as many 'SNAKE BITES' as they claim they have) BY THE GRACE AND MERCY OF THE MOST HIGH YOU BETTER PRAY YOU OR YOUR FAMILY WERE ONES THAT WERE SPARED‼️" It opened:

(Statistically IMPOSSIBLE for them to have administered as many "SNAKE BITES" as they claim they have) BY THE GRACE AND MERCY OF THE MOST HIGH YOU BETTER PRAY YOU OR YOUR FAMILY WERE ONES THAT WERE SPARED‼️

This is what the post looked like on Facebook at the time of writing:

snake bites.png

(Source: Facebook screenshot taken on Thu Oct 6 15:58:56 2022 UTC)


"Snake bites" is a nickname for COVID shots among some vaccine-hesitant communities. It's also a reference to an anti-vaccine documentary from April 2022 that involved an elaborate conspiracy theory filled with falsehoods, scare tactics and religious imagery, including the claim that COVID shots include snake venom that turns people into satanic hybrids. Lead Stories' fact check on the documentary can be found here.

Statistically possible

The Facebook post and video claim it is "statistically impossible" for so many people to have gotten their shots since COVID vaccines were first authorized in the United States for emergency use in December 2020. The narrator in the video makes this argument:

We heard recently that China was going to jab 2 billion Chinese. And they're going
to pull that off, somehow. There's no way they're pulling any of that off. There's no way
that 150 million Americans were jabbed with anything, based on just logic and the numbers.

So, let's do the numbers. If there was a jab produced every second, 24/7, three, six, five, guess how long it would take to produce 2 billion jabs?

The answer to his question is 63 years. The math checks out -- 2 billion doses divided by 31,536,000 seconds in a year. But his assumed production rate is wrong and terribly low.

While an estimated 3.27 million people a day, or about 38 people a second, were getting COVID shots as of September 29, 2022, that's a mere fraction of the rate from earlier in the pandemic. On June 27, 2021, the daily rate peaked at 43.7 million people or nearly 506 people per second.

At the peak rate, it would only take about six weeks to vaccinate 2 billion people. At the lower rate, it would take about 86 weeks or just over a year and a half.

As of October 6, 2022, the average rate for the 95 weeks since the first COVID vaccine was given emergency-use authorization is more than 19 million people a day or 222 a second. At that rate, it would take about 15 weeks to vaccinate the 2 billion people in the narrator's example.

Billions of shots

Tallies from both the University of Oxford and the World Health Organization show administered vaccine doses topping 12.7 billion.

The COVID-19 Market Dashboard on the UNICEF website says 41 different COVID vaccines have been approved globally for use by at least one national authority. This chart shows the top 23 manufacturers, according to the U.N. agency:


(Source: UNICEF screenshot taken on Thu Oct 6 21:32:42 2022 UTC)

According to U.N. statistics provided by UNICEF, the largest-single COVID-19 vaccine provider is Pfizer, a U.S. biopharmaceutical company. In an October 6, 2022 email to Lead Stories, a company spokesperson said Pfizer has shipped more than 3.6 billion doses of its COVID vaccine to "every corner of the world" since manufacturing first began in mid-2020:

Pfizer's global supply team have worked tirelessly since the start of the pandemic to expand and enhance our supply chain in order to bring billions of doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine to people around the world. ... we've undergone the largest and fastest expansion in pharmaceutical history and arguably developed the most efficient vaccine manufacturing machine in the industry.

Manufacturing rate

Over the two years Pfizer has been making its COVID vaccine, it's produced an average of more than 30 million doses a week or more than 50 per second. It's a production rate well above the one per second suggested by the narrator of the video.

Pfizer says it's delivered COVID vaccines to 180 countries and territories. Since the start of the pandemic, Pfizer has cut its vaccine-manufacturing time from 110 days to 60 days and increased its capacity from four company-owned sites to 11 and added 20 contract manufacturers.

Lead Stories asked other vaccine manufacturers to provide a response, but none had done so at the time of writing. If they do so, it will be added to the story.

Additional Lead Stories fact checks related to COVID-19 vaccination can be found here.

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Lead Stories is working with the CoronaVirusFacts/DatosCoronaVirus Alliance, a coalition of more than 100 fact-checkers who are fighting misinformation related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Learn more about the alliance here.

  Ed Payne

Ed Payne is a staff writer at Lead Stories. He is an Emmy Award-winning journalist as part of CNN’s coverage of 9/11. Ed worked at CNN for nearly 24 years with the CNN Radio Network and CNN Digital. Most recently, he was a Digital Senior Producer for Gray Television’s Digital Content Center, the company’s digital news hub for 100+ TV stations. Ed also worked as a writer and editor for WebMD. In addition to his journalistic endeavors, Ed is the author of two children’s book series: “The Daily Rounds of a Hound” and “Vail’s Tales.” 

Read more about or contact Ed Payne

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