The United Nations on Thursday 11 March 2021 launched a new global campaign, Only Together, to support its call for fair and equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines around the world.
The campaign stresses the need for coordinated global action to ensure vaccines are accessible in all countries, starting with health-care workers and the most vulnerable.
“Over the past year, we’ve all missed out on doing the things we love to do with others—eating, hugging, and going to school and work,” said UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina J. Mohammed.
“Millions of us have lost someone we love or had our livelihoods taken away. An unprecedented global scientific effort for vaccines has given us hope to defeat the virus — but only if we work together to ensure everyone, everywhere has access to COVID-19 vaccines. Only together can we end the pandemic and transform a new era of hope.”
More than 2.5 million people around the world have died from COVID-19, according to the World Health Organization. The COVID-19 vaccines will stop people from dying, prevent new variants from emerging, reignite economies and offer the best hope to end the pandemic.
The biggest vaccine roll out in history is now underway with millions of doses being delivered around the world, including to some of the world’s poorest countries, through the efforts of COVAX, the global vaccine equity mechanism.
But these doses will initially only cover a small segment of the populations — healthcare workers and the most vulnerable. By the end of 2021, COVAX aims to offer vaccines to nearly 30 per cent of each participating country’s population. But that progress pales compared to ten rich countries who possess nearly 80 per cent of all COVID-19 vaccines, with some planning to vaccinate their entire population within the next few months.
COVAX, which is led by the World Health Organization, GAVI and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), and in partnership with UNICEF, has 190 participating countries. It needs more than US$2 billion to fully meet its goal to vaccinate those most in need by the end of the year.
Pledging new funding for COVAX is critical, but more can be done to scale up vaccine access by sharing excess vaccines, transferring technology, offering voluntary licensing or even waiving intellectual property rights.
“If the world’s scientists were able to develop safe and effective vaccines in just seven months, the aims of world’s leaders must be equally record-breaking — to provide enough funding and to ramp up manufacturing to enable everyone on earth to be vaccinated,” said UN Under-Secretary-General for Global Communications Melissa Fleming.