People want poorer countries to be prioritised equally for COVID-19 vaccine

Nearly two thirds of people asked in a UK poll agreed that a global COVID-19 vaccine programme should be created which does not prioritise richer countries over poorer ones.

Sixty-three per cent of respondents to the survey commissioned by Christian Aid said they wanted to see countries working together to create a global COVID-19 vaccine programme that would not prioritise developed countries over developing countries. Only 11% disagreed.

The Savanta ComRes poll also showed that 66% of those asked felt the UK Government should call on pharmaceutical companies to share their COVID-19 vaccine formula so it can be rolled out faster to more people.

Concern about inequalities in access to healthcare and vaccines has prompted a pilot partnership between Christian Aid and the Diocese of Gloucester. The Give Thanks campaign enables vaccinated people to show their thanks and desire for others to be protected by giving to Christian Aid’s Coronavirus Appeal. The scheme is now being rolled out nationally as people show their willingness to pay their good fortune forward.

To fund effective vaccination programmes, countries in the global south are having to make cuts in existing budgets and take on new debt to buy vaccines for their populations putting a further burden on systems already pushed to breaking point by the pandemic and multiple factors, including the climate crisis.

Christian Aid’s Head of Global Advocacy and Policy Fionna Smyth said: “Christian Aid believes that access to vaccines must not become a global postcode lottery and these poll results send a clear message that many people across the UK share our belief that this global pandemic requires an equitable global response.

“While international efforts to fund vaccines in the World Health Organisation’s COVAX programme have been helpful, the COVAX vaccines are delayed and are not expected to reach adequate vaccine coverage in the countries where they are issued.

“Our best chance of all staying safe from COVID-19 is to have vaccines, tests and treatments that are available for all.

“Not only is it morally unacceptable to let the world’s most vulnerable people continue to suffer, it’s also in the interests of everyone to have the vaccine as quickly as possible. 

“No-one is safe until everyone is safe. This crisis needs governments and the big pharmaceutical companies to urgently to raise their sights, to be imaginative and generous, and to act for the global good and deliver tangible results fast.”

Christian Aid’s Coronavirus Appeal is supporting work in 27 countries around the world to help prevent the spread of coronavirus and mitigate the worst effects of movement restrictions. This includes distributing soap to nearly 250,000 vulnerable people, providing food and hygiene packages and supporting those at risk from domestic violence.

As vaccination campaigns begin, Christian Aid will provide data to local health services on hard-to-reach populations and work with trusted local people to help tackle misinformation and any stigma around COVID-19, vaccinations and treatment.

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