A Belgian citizens’ initiative has been launched to collect donations to buy coronavirus vaccines and provide them to people in countries that cannot afford them.
The “vaccine for everyone” campaign – set up under the King Baudouin Foundation – aims to send the money raised to the COVAX program, set up by the United Nations and the World Health Organisation (WHO) to help low and middle-income countries access vaccines against Covid-19.
“It seems unique to us that citizens – alongside the likes of Bill Gates and Prince Harry and Meghan, via their foundations – can fund vaccines for the less fortunate,” the initiators wrote in a statement. They point out that a vaccine, administered free of charge in Belgium, can cost a state between €1.78 and €14.8.
“One idea would be to pass on the price of one’s own vaccine or part of it to allow others in the world to be vaccinated,” the initiators added.
The Director-General of the WHO, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, had earlier this week denounced the “outrageously unequal” distribution of coronavirus vaccines around the world.
“A small group of countries make and buy the majority of vaccines, and they control the fate of the rest of the world,” he said.
Belgium announced on Monday that it would donate four million additional coronavirus vaccines to COVAX to help make vaccines available to all countries.
From the start of July, Belgium will be offering its surplus Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca vaccines to the cause, Development Minister Meryame Kitir said on Radio 1.
“We will be donating these two vaccine types and will start in July by giving 100,000 doses of AstraZeneca and then we will discuss with the vaccine task force to see what we can donate moving forward,” she said.
She added that, although Belgium is facing some delays with vaccine deliveries, “other countries in certain parts of the world have not even started with a vaccine rollout yet, because there are no vaccines available to them.”