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2 JULY 2021 – “I am heartened to see the first of millions of doses of COVID-19 vaccines donated by the United States Government arrive in South Asia, a region devastated by the COVID-19 pandemic, and where 1.5 billion people still remain unvaccinated.
Millions more doses donated by the United States to the COVAX Facility are expected in South Asia in the coming days and weeks.
These donations by the United States to COVAX are a lifeline for a region which has been ravaged by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has claimed over 450,000 lives so far and left countless numbers of children without parents and sole carers.
These vaccines will provide much-needed relief to a region where COVID-19 vaccination rates remain unacceptably low due to a severe lack of supplies. While some regions are returning to normal, South Asia is still suffering.
I am particularly concerned about the frontline workers who are putting their lives on the line every day to care for sick people. All in all, over 7 million health workers in South Asia still are not fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Many teachers still also await their vaccines.
As the region faces new variants and gears up to fight a possible third wave, the time for well-supplied countries to donate doses is now.
But to save lives in South Asia, we need not only more COVID-19 vaccines, but also emergency supplies of oxygen, diagnostic tests, masks, and medicines for people sick with COVID-19. The course of this pandemic will only change when each and every country has equitable access to vaccines, diagnostics, and therapeutics. The images of loved ones struggling to breathe are all too fresh in our minds.
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