Greta Thunberg supports Covax system against ‘vaccine inequality’
Monday, 19 April 2021
The foundation of climate activist Greta Thunberg will donate €100,000 to the Covax system to fight against the “tragedy of vaccine inequality” in the face of the pandemic.
The money to be donated to the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) foundation will be used to “purchase vaccines against Covid-19, as part of the global effort to ensure equitable access of vaccines to the most at-risk in all countries,” the WHO said in a statement on Monday.
“The international community must do more to address the tragedy that is vaccine inequity,” Thunberg said in the statement, before attending a press conference with WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
“We have the means at our disposal to correct the great imbalance that exists around the world today in the fight against Covid-19,” she said. “Just as with the climate crisis, we must help those who are the most vulnerable first.”
Thunberg said she was convinced that the Covax system – a public-private partnership between the WHO, the Vaccine Alliance (Gavi) and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (Cepi) that would ensure equitable distribution, particularly to 92 poor countries – is the right answer.
About 1 in 4 people in high-income countries have received a COVID-19 vaccine, compared with just 1 in more than 500 in low-income countries.
My foundation will donate €100000 to support COVAX to ensure a more equitable global COVID-19 vaccine distribution. #VaccineEquitypic.twitter.com/JKxZC4s8F7
For now, the system is struggling to get up to speed, because India has blocked exports of the AstraZeneca vaccine, but also because rich countries have preferred to source vaccines directly rather than rely on Covax.
“I encourage the global community to follow Greta’s lead and do what it can, in support of Covax, to protect the most vulnerable from this pandemic,” said Dr Tedros.
However, the WHO Director-General’s calls for sharing the available doses have had little effect on leaders so far.
Under pressure from public opinion, many of them, such as in the European Union and the United States, have vaccination targets far in excess of the most pressing needs. The shortage of available vaccines therefore deprives less wealthy countries of access to serums.
Dr Tedros added that he regrets that, while in some rich countries one-quarter of the population is vaccinated, this drops to one in 500 people in poor countries.