UNICEF Goodwill Ambassadors Priyanka Chopra Jonas, David Beckham, Katy Perry, Orlando Bloom, Whoopi Goldberg, Angélique Kidjo, and Liam Neeson have joined a call demanding that G7 leaders commit to urgently donate doses of Covid-19 vaccines to poorer countries.
The open letter, published ahead of the three-day G7 Leaders’ Summit beginning 11 June in Cornwall, UK urges the leaders to share a minimum of 20% of Covid-19 vaccine dose supply urgently, to reduce the risk of the virus spreading further and the threat of mutant strains.
“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,” the letter reads. “This means more school closures, more healthcare disruptions, and greater economic fallout – threating the futures of families and children
Nepal has fully vaccinated close to 700,000 people using either AstraZeneca Covishield or Sinopharm VeroCell vaccines, a mere 4% of its total 30 million population.
People in the age group 60-64 are currently being inoculated with their first dose with one million additional doses of VeroCell gifted by China earlier this month.
But what Nepal immediately needs is Covidshield vaccines for at least 1.4 million Nepalis above 65 years who had received their first dose three months ago and are past their recommended time for the booster shot.
The Serum Institute of India wasn’t able to deliver remaining one million doses of Covishield due to the continued Indian ban on the export. The COVAX facility for global equitable distribution of Covid vaccine was able to send only the first consignment of 348,000 doses of Covishield to Nepal due to the bottleneck in supply.
On Wednesday, Nepal recorded 4,344 new cases while 5,768 people made a successful recovery. There were 81 fatalities in the past 24 hours. There are now 80,336 active cases. Of 1,312 people in ICUs across the country, 375 are in ventilator support.
The COVAX facility is already facing a shortfall of 190 million doses. By donating 20% of their vaccines between June and August, which amounts to 150 million doses, the G7 countries could temporarily compensate for this shortfall.
And the G7 nations could do so without significant delay to current plans to vaccinate domestic adult populations, according to a recent data analysis by Airfinity, the life sciences research facility.
“The pandemic won’t be over until it’s over everywhere, so it’s vital that all communities around the world have fair access to Covid-19 vaccines urgently,” says David Beckham, English footballer and UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador.
Without urgently ensuring fair and equitable access supply, the world will continue to be at risk of deadly virus mutations – like the devastating second wave of Covid-19 sweeping across India and other South Asian countries including Nepal, Pakistan and Afghanistan.
“The crisis in India shows why we must act now to avoid further deadly mutations ravaging low- and middle- income nations around the world. UNICEF and its COVAX partners are ensuring vaccines and treatments reaches the world’s most vulnerable populations, but cannot do it alone,” says Priyanka Chopra Jonas, Bollywood actor and UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador.
“I’ve joined my fellow UNICEF Goodwill Ambassadors in signing this letter, urgently asking G7 leaders to make this commitment at the UK summit this week, to keep families and children everywhere safe from Covid-19.”
The letter reiterates that this weekend’s summit is a vital opportunity to get vaccines where they are most needed, fast, and urges leaders to set out a roadmap to scale-up donations as supplies increase, noting that forecasts suggest as many as one billion doses may be available for donation by year end.
“Countries need not choose between fighting the disease at home or fighting it abroad. We can, and must, do both simultaneously – and immediately,” says Henrietta Fore, UNICEF Executive Director. “This is a pivotal time in the fight against Covid-19, as leaders meet to set priorities for what form this fight will take in the coming weeks and months. The disease is not respecting boundaries on a map. Our fight to get ahead of the virus, and its variants, should not either.”
The 28 high-profile UNICEF Ambassadors and Supporters joining the cause to ensure fair and equitable vaccine supply to low- and middle- income countries are Ramla Ali, Fernando Alonso, David Beckham, Orlando Bloom, José Manuel Calderón, Sofia Carson, Gemma Chan, Priyanka Chopra Jonas, Olivia Colman, Billie Eilish, Pau Gasol, Whoopi Goldberg, David Harewood, Sir Chris Hoy, Angelique Kidjo, Téa Leoni, Lucy Liu, Juan Manuel López Iturriaga, Ewan McGregor, Alyssa Milano, Andy Murray, Liam Neeson, Liam Payne, Katy Perry, Sergio Ramos, Claudia Schiffer, Teresa Viejo and P!nk.