Statement by Joanna Rea, Director of Advocacy, UK Committee for UNICEF (UNICEF UK) on the urgent need to address global vaccine inequity ahead of G7 Ministerial meeting 11-13th December
“The discovery of the Omicron variant comes at a time when over 90 per cent of people in low-income countries have not received a single dose of the life-saving COVID-19 vaccines. Health workers and those at greatest risk remain perilously exposed to the virus and unable to protect themselves while the pandemic continues to destabilise essential health and education services for children.
“COVID-19 is a global health emergency that requires urgent, transnational action to save lives and end this pandemic for everyone, for good. This virus has repeatedly shown that it does not respect borders and we will not end this pandemic one country at a time. While people around the world remain unprotected, we all remain at risk. Sharing vaccine doses now is the best way to protect us all against variants and accelerate the end of the pandemic.
“Of the 100 million doses promised by the UK Government at the G7 Leaders’ Summit in July, less than 25% have been sent to countries that desperately need them. Our analysis shows that the UK Government can deliver its domestic booster programme and accelerate its commitments on vaccine dose sharing. Doing one without the other is self-defeating and will lead to virus mutation and variants, more avoidable loss of life and continued disruption to the vital services that the world’s children rely on.
“As the end of the UK’s G7 Presidency draws near, UNICEF UK is calling on the UK Government to urgently accelerate the delivery of these promised vaccine doses to COVAX. The UK can lead the way by delivering on its promise to share the doses it has committed to now, by investing in the global response to ensure equitable access to vaccines and by committing to strengthen health systems that support the delivery of COVID-19 vaccines. The pathway out of this pandemic is clear, and the Omicron variant must serve as a wake-up call that accelerates urgent action on vaccine inequity.”
Note to editor
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UNICEF works in some of the world’s toughest places, to reach the world’s most disadvantaged children. Across more than 190 countries and territories, we work for every child, everywhere, to build a better world for everyone.
The UK Committee for UNICEF (UNICEF UK) raises funds for UNICEF’s emergency and development work for children. We also promote and protect children’s rights in the UK and internationally. We are a UK charity, entirely funded by supporters.
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