The United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) has proposed that G7 countries should donate 20 per cent of their vaccines to COVAX, the global initiative supporting poorer countries in gaining access to vaccines, for equitable distributions.

The global organisation, which stated this in a recent statement sent to PREMIUM TIMES, said this should be done between June and August, 2021, to cover what it described as an acute shortage of vaccines in some developing countries.

According to UNICEF, COVAX was already facing a shortfall of 190 million doses meant for the troubled parts of the world.

With the 20 per cent from the G7 countries, which it calculated to be more than 150 million doses “in order to cover this shortfall.”

Reasons for proposal

UNICEF said it is important for all countries to access vaccines to reduce the risk of the virus spreading further and the threat of mutant strains.

It warned that without urgently ensuring fair and equitable access supply, the world will continue to be at risk of deadly virus mutations such as the devastating second wave of COVID-19 sweeping across India and other countries.

The global body’s Goodwill ambassador, Priyanka Jonas, said; “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.

“This means more school closures, more healthcare disruptions, and greater economic fallout – threatening the futures of families and children everywhere.

“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.”

More voices for equitable distribution

Meanwhile, a civil society organisation, AIDS HealthCare Foundation (AHF) is also advocating increased and equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines especially in some developing countries around the world.

The group’s country programme director, Echey Ijezie, during a media roundtable and launch of the Vaccinate Our World (VOW) campaign, said despite the availability of COVID-19 vaccines, only developed countries have access to it.

Mr Ijezie said although 1.3 billion COVID-19 vaccines have been administered worldwide only 0.3 per cent of the least developing countries received the vaccines.

This he said has created a huge disparity between developed countries and developing countries.

“About 1.3 billion COVID-19 vaccines have been administered worldwide but a large chunk is administered in developed countries leaving the least developed countries with only 0.3 per cent,” he said.

He said AHF has initiated the VOW campaign to urge world leaders, public health organisations to ensure that there is equal access to vaccination for COVID-19.

“Until everybody is vaccinated, that is when the pandemic will stop,” he said.

Vaccination, a human right

In her remarks, Deputy National Coordinator, Association for COVID-19 and Beyond (ASCAB), Hauwa Mustapha, said vaccination against any disease is a fundamental human right.

“Human right is something that concerns every part of the globe. If you fail to take care of the needs of the southern part of the globe then you will be creating a consequential problem for the north,” she said.

Ms Mustapha, however, alleged profits from vaccines have become a priority for many nations and pharmaceutical companies.

She said there is a need to water down the “marketisation” and profiteering associated with COVID-19 vaccines.

“Pharmaceutical companies were running over themselves trying to be champion because of two things of which profit-making is one,” she said.

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