The United Nations International Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Goodwill Ambassadors have joined an extraordinary call by 28 high-profile Supporters demanding that G7 leaders commit to donating doses of COVID-19 vaccine to poorer countries immediately.
Following the call, an open letter was released on Wednesday ahead of the three-day G7 Leaders’ Summit in Cornwall, UK from Friday 11-Sunday 13 June.
The letter urged G7 leaders to commit to sharing at least 20% of the COVID-19 vaccine dose supply as soon as possible to reduce the risk of the virus spreading further and the threat of mutant strains.
The letter reads; “The world has spent a year and a half battling the COVID-19 pandemic, but the virus is still spreading in many countries and producing new variants with the potential to put us all back where we started,” the letter reads. “This means more school closures, more healthcare disruptions, and greater economic fallout – threatening the futures of families and children everywhere.”
It warned that COVAX, the global initiative supporting poorer countries in gaining access to vaccines, is already facing a shortfall of 190 million doses, and proposes that, in order to help cover this shortfall, G7 countries donate 20 per cent of their vaccines between June and August – over 150 million doses – as a temporary stopgap measure to compensate for this shortfall.
Saying, recent data analysis provided by Airfinity, the life sciences research facility, and commissioned by the UK Committee for UNICEF (UNICEF UK), indicates that G7 nations could do so without significant delay to current plans to vaccinate domestic adult populations.
“As a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador I believe in the crucial benefit of vaccinations,” said David Beckham, UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador. “The pandemic won’t be over until it’s over everywhere, so it’s vital that all communities around the world have fair access to Covid-19 vaccines urgently.”
UNICEF is also warning that without urgently ensuring fair and equitable access supply, the world will continue to be at risk of deadly virus mutations – like the devastating second wave of COVID-19 sweeping across India and other South Asian countries including Nepal, Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Priyanka Chopra Jonas, one of UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador said, “The crisis at home in India and across the region of South Asia is devastating. This deadly surge of Covid-19 is placing an enormous strain on health facilities across India, with hospital beds, essential medical supplies and oxygen running out.
“It’s also of huge concern to all of us at UNICEF to hear about children falling ill with this new variant – while many are also losing parents and left alone and at risk, unable to access critical health care, vaccinations and education.”
“The crisis in India shows why we must act now to avoid further deadly mutations ravaging low- and middle-income nations around the world. UNICEF and its COVAX partners are ensuring vaccines and treatments reaches the world’s most vulnerable populations, but cannot do it alone.
“A clear solution to this is G7 countries committing to sharing their surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses immediately with the countries whose health workers and vulnerable populations need them the most,” said Priyanka Chopra.
“That’s exactly why I’ve joined my fellow UNICEF Goodwill Ambassadors in signing this letter, urgently asking G7 leaders to make this commitment at the UK summit this week, to keep families and children everywhere safe from COVID-19.”
Finally, the letter argues that “this weekend’s G7 Summit is a vital opportunity for you to agree to the actions that will get vaccines where they are most needed, fast…” and urges leaders to set out a roadmap to scale-up donations as supplies increase, noting that forecasts suggest as many as one billion doses may be available for donation by year-end.
Henrietta Fore, UNICEF Executive Director said, “Countries need not choose between fighting the disease at home or fighting it abroad. We can, and must, do both simultaneously – and immediately.”
While adding that, “This is a pivotal time in the fight against COVID-19, as leaders meet to set priorities for what form this fight will take in the coming weeks and months. I am pleased so many UNICEF supporters are joining our call for emergency support for COVAX, so we can continue to wage this fight globally. After all, the disease is not respecting boundaries on a map. Our fight to get ahead of the virus, and its variants, should not either.”