As states and territories begin to open up after hitting COVID-19 vaccination targets, there is a strong reminder that the pandemic is far from over and everything is in jeopardy until poorer nations are helped to vaccinate populations as well.
Specifically, the ‘Shot of Hope’ report, published on Monday by the ‘The End COVID For All’ campaign, says delays in vaccinating developing countries pose a risk of deadly, more contagious COVID variants, and it calls on Australia to lift its commitment in global vaccination effort with $ 250 million.
The Morrison government has welcomed the report with the Minister for International Development and the Pacific, Zed Seseljia, and said Australia is absolutely committed to fair access to COVID vaccines.
The report notes that on current trends, 19 low-income countries will not reach 70 percent vaccination until 2030.Two-thirds of 77 epidemiologists surveyed also call for immediate action, or they predict that COVID-19 will mutate in less than a year.
“If COVID has taught us anything, it’s an invisible virus that biologically connects us all,” said Pastor Tim Costello of the ‘The End COVID For All’ campaign The Canberra Times.
“That’s why it does not end for us here in Australia, and before we vaccinate the world’s poor, this is where the virus mutates. It comes here. So nationalistic thinking, you know where we can close our borders and just vaccinate ourselves many times, does not protect us in a global world.
“The poorest are biologically dependent on us. We may want to shake them from our minds, shake them from our hearts. In fact, whatever they go through, their vulnerability becomes our vulnerability.”
‘Shot of Hope’ co-authored an expert advisory group of researchers, analysts and leaders from organizations including The Burnett Institute, UNICEF Australia and Médecins Sans Frontières Australia.
Australia has committed a total of $ 130 million to global efforts to extend COVAX Advance Market Commitment (COVAX AMC) to COVID-19 vaccination of people in low- and middle-income countries.
There have also been promises as part of the leaders grouping with the US, Japan and India, while millions of Australian AstraZeneca doses have also been donated to Indo-Pacific countries, including a commitment to send 2.5 million doses to Indonesia in 2021.
“No it’s not enough. We have committed about $ 130 million to the COVAX plant, but our fair share is another $ 250 million,” Pastor Costello said.
“Because, again, we have these that sound like generous commitments from Quad, and everyone claps. And then you go, hang on. It’s still less than four percent of the underdeveloped low-income countries.”
“So we get the kind that sound like generous statements rather than asking the question, ‘what’s our share?’ And our share is an additional $ 250 million in COVAX, and our fair share is $ 170 million for what is called the Rapid ACT Accelerator Delta Response (RADAR). “
Senator Seselja said Australia has committed more than $ 750 million to support vaccine access initiatives to date.
“Australia is absolutely committed to fair access to COVID vaccines, including for developing countries, with a particular focus on ensuring that our region is not left behind,” he said.
“We welcome End COVID for All’s constructive contribution to ending this pandemic.
“Australia has proudly committed to sharing 60 million vaccines with our Indo-Pacific neighbors by the end of 2022, and we have shared over 3.57 million vaccines directly with our region to date.”
The report by End COVID for All also calls on Australia to commit to sharing 20 million vaccines through the COVAX facility and increase Australia’s overall aid commitment in response to the impact of the pandemic.
Our journalists work hard to deliver local, up-to-date news to the community. Here’s how you can continue to access our trusted content: