AN URGENT PLEA FOR YOUR SUPPORT The clock is ticking on a critical six month window to get vaccines from ports of entry to people’s arms.
Can you help UNICEF deliver?
To protect the futures of all children, critical support is needed for the global effort to procure, supply and distribute COVID-19 vaccines across the globe and end the pandemic for everyone. UNICEF immunises about half the world’s children each year, some 2.4 billion, making us the only agency on earth that can support a vaccine roll out at the pace and scale required.
The race against time is now a sprint. We are mounting the largest and fastest vaccination program in human history, and today we're appealing for your help in ensuring it is the success we all need it to be.
At present, less than 2% of people in low-income countries have received their first vaccine dose, compared to 82% in high and upper-middle income countries. We currently have a situation whereby wealthier countries are administering third booster doses, while the overwhelming majority of Africa’s people are yet to receive a single shot. Meanwhile, what is certain to be a brutal fourth wave threatens the African continent.
As the WHO Health Emergencies Director Michael Ryan recently put it, “We’re planning to hand out extra life jackets to people who already have life jackets, while we’re leaving other people to drown.”
COVID-19 knows no boundaries or country borders. We all understand by now how difficult it is to seal countries off from the outside world, and even if it were possible, that no-one wants to live that way. Yet the Delta variant has taught us that when coronavirus sweeps through large unvaccinated populations, it mutates. Always with the possibility that a mutation will emerge for which existing vaccines offer no protection, making its way back to highly vaccinated countries, as exposed as they were on day one of the pandemic.
In short, we’re facing at a scenario in which the virus will keep circulating and returning in various forms, potentially more deadly and contagious, unless the whole world is vaccinated ASAP. Some epidemiologists have put the likely timeframe for a vaccine-resistant variant occurring at a year or less. Nobody is safe until everybody is safe.
THE COVAX ROLL OUT STORY SO FAR
UNICEF and our implementing partners have delivered 270+ million vaccines doses to 141 countries so far this year. It is a mighty effort but nowhere near what we’d hoped, planned for and or will be needed to end the pandemic for everybody. Vaccine supply has been an ongoing challenge.
However, this situation has now improved dramatically. India resuming exports in October has given global vaccine supply a huge boost. Based on orders locked in with vaccine manufacturers and pledged vaccine donations, we expect to be in a position to deliver an additional 1.2 billion doses by the end of 2021, rising to a total 2.6 billion doses by March 2022. This is a fifteen-fold increase in just a few months. Many of these vaccines are marked for emergency use only — meaning they have a shelf life of six months or less remaining.
FROM PORTS TO PEOPLE'S ARMS
Developing nations with fragile health systems — already strained by COVID-19 itself — need help to prepare for a vaccine roll out at warp speed. We’ve seen for ourselves how challenging this can be, even for an affluent country like Australia. The steady build up we had hoped for will instead be an inundation of supply arriving all at once, with an expiration date less than six months away.
Within this wider picture, achieving preparedness for the COVAX roll out is a stand out good news story. Today we have the supply chains, cold chain facilities and expertise to co-ordinate health authorities in all COVAX participating countries. Crucially, we also have the networks and know how to mount the major communication and community engagement campaigns to ensure people come forward to be vaccinated — but additional funding support is required.
Most urgently of all, UNICEF requires support for the processes involved in getting vaccines from ports of entry into the hands of health care workers and into people’s arms, ASAP. If countries are unable to absorb vaccines doses as they arrive it will be a catastrophe not just for those countries, but all humankind. We can’t let this happen — not when it’s within our power to get this job done.
HOW YOU CAN HELP
COVAX is a multilateral initiative based on the principle of global solidarity. It offers a clear alternative to vaccine inequity and the untenable risks this poses. The Australian Government has stepped up, donating hundreds of thousands of vaccine doses to developing nations in our region. UNICEF — a children’s charity — is stepping up to lead the vaccination of adult populations worldwide. We’re asking you, as an Australian humanitarian and philanthropist, to step up too and help UNICEF make history by ending the pandemic — once and for all.
It costs just $5 to fully vaccinate someone.
If you’re in a position to donate today please consider doing so.