Irish public donates one million Covid vaccines to world’s poorest countries

Unicef campaign asked people who got a vaccine to donate the cost to someone in need

One million Covid vaccine doses will now be delivered to healthcare workers and vulnerable people in countries with limited access to vaccines. Photograph: Alan Betson

One million Covid vaccine doses will now be delivered to healthcare workers and vulnerable people in countries with limited access to vaccines. Photograph: Alan Betson

 

The Irish public has donated more than one million Covid-19 vaccines to some of the world’s poorest countries, Unicef has said.

People and companies in Ireland raised more than €2.5 million as part of the Get a Vaccine, Give a Vaccine campaign by Unicef which invited people in Ireland who were getting a vaccine to donate the cost of one to someone in need.

One million doses will now be delivered to healthcare workers and vulnerable people in countries with limited access to vaccines.

It is part of Unicef’s aim to support the delivery of two billion Covid-19 vaccine doses this year.

“We have been simply blown away by the incredible gratitude and solidarity for others that people in Ireland have shown. We have never witnessed anything like it before,” Unicef Ireland Executive Director Peter Power said.

“We all know that nobody is safe until everyone is safe, and that no child is safe, until everyone they rely on is safe,” he said.

“It is astonishing that some countries in the world have vaccination rates of less than 5 per cent, while the wealthiest countries have vaccinated the vast majority of their populations. By supporting this campaign in huge numbers Irish people have recognised that inequity and have taken this tangible expression of solidarity with people who have no access to vaccines.”

The vaccine rollout was “the most critical mission in the world right now” and donations to the campaign “help ensure that vaccines get to the most remote and isolated places in the world.”

Donations went towards helping Unicef store vaccines safely using secure cold chain equipment.

Unicef is delivering vaccines as part of the worldwide Covid-19 Vaccines Global Access (Covax) initiative, aimed at equitable access to Covid-19 vaccines.

The initiative is directed by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, and the World Health Organisation.

So far, Covax has delivered over 175 million doses to 138 countries. However, Unicef says more funding is needed to achieve its goals.

The Serum Institute of India plant, producing AstraZeneca doses, was supposed to supply most of Covax’s doses but India’s restriction of exports to combat its own surge of cases has meant that Covax is increasingly reliant on donated doses from wealthy countries which have bought more batches than they need.

Meanwhile, the WHO has spoken out against the inequality in access to Covid-19 vaccines around the world.

While Ireland aims to have 90 per cent of the adult population vaccinated by September, and 75 per cent of the population aged 16 and over now vaccinated, some poorer countries have been unable to vaccinate their most vulnerable age groups and health care workers.