UNICEF and celebrities appeal to G7 countries: Donate COVID vaccinations ‘now’

June 08, 2021
A health worker prepares a COVID-19 vaccine in Ethiopia. — courtesy UNICEF/Nahom Tesfaye
A health worker prepares a COVID-19 vaccine in Ethiopia. — courtesy UNICEF/Nahom Tesfaye

GENEVA — From David Beckham to Whoopi Goldberg and Angelique Kidjo, Ambassadors for the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and other agencies, have signed an open letter to the upcoming G7 Summit of world leaders, underscoring the urgency of supplying vaccine donations now.

“We’re asking you to make these urgent donations by August and to set out a road map to scale up donations as supplies increase,” wrote the celebrities, influencers and activists.

Priyanka Chopra Jonas and Billie Eilish were among those highlighting that the Summit provides a vital opportunity for the G7 intergovernmental group of leading countries to agree actions that will get COVID-19 vaccines “where they are most needed, fast”.

Threatening variants

Despite spending a year and a half battling the COVID-19 pandemic, the virus continues to spread in many countries, producing new variants that threaten to undo all the progress so far, with more school closures, healthcare disruptions and greater economic fallout, the letter explained.

“The pandemic will not be over anywhere until it is over everywhere, and that means getting vaccines to every country, as quickly and equitably as possible,” said Ramla Ali, José Manuel Calderón and Lucy Liu as signatories.

Wasted shots danger

UNICEF has warned that millions of vaccines could be wasted if rich countries send large amounts of unused doses to poorer nations at the same time, explaining that there needs to be a steady supply throughout the year as poor countries lack the resources to get them in arms all at once.

Although UNICEF is already delivering vaccines on behalf of the UN-led vaccine equity initiative COVAX, it is 190 million doses short, leaving vulnerable people dangerously unprotected. And while some countries have committed to donating vaccines later this year, they are urgently needed “now”, they said.

According to UNICEF’s analysis, G7 countries will soon have enough doses to donate around 20 percent of their vaccines between June and August — equivalent to more than 150 million doses — without significantly delaying current plans to vaccinate their adult populations. 

“The hopes of the world rest on your shoulders. Together, you must rise to this challenge. Let’s build a healthier, brighter and fairer future for every child and for everyone,” the letter concluded.

Other stars who signed the letter include Orlando Bloom, Gemma Chan, Olivia Colman, Pau Gasol, Juan Manuel López Iturriaga, Liam Neeson, Katy Perry and Claudia Schiffer. — UN News

June 08, 2021
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