End COVID For All has commended the Australian Government’s pledge to share an additional 40 million COVID-19 vaccines with developing countries but is calling on the Government to commit to further action to fight the pandemic in poor countries.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison this morning announced he will share 20 million doses and procure another 20 million to share in the future, which will be distributed to neighbouring countries in the Indo-Pacific by the end of next year.
“This is a welcome step in the right direction but the Australian Government needs to provide more than just vaccines to ensure doses get from the tarmac into arms,” said Reverend Tim Costello.
“Vaccine sharing must also be delivered with enough support on the ground to guarantee they will be distributed equally and effectively.
“We must also not forget the power of global co-operation in the battle against COVID-19.
“Right now only two per cent of people in low-income countries have received a first dose.
“Contributing to global efforts such as the COVAX Facility are our best chance to stop the virus from spreading and mutating as it decimates low income countries.
“COVAX is the only global initiative that is working with governments and manufacturers to ensure COVID-19 vaccines are available worldwide to both higher-income and lower-income countries who may not otherwise be able to procure doses on their own.
“COVAX leverages global expertise in distributing and administering vaccines to lower transaction costs, mitigate the risk of supply shortages, get a better price and allocate vaccines equitably.
“If we don’t act to fight COVID everywhere, experts estimate it could take less than a year before the virus mutates to the point where the majority of first-generation vaccines are rendered ineffective.
“Australia has witnessed the devastation caused by the uncontrolled mutation of the virus first-hand.
“We thought we had crushed COVID-19 while it ravaged other parts of the world, until Delta was introduced here.
“That is why, on top of the moral imperative we have to help our poorest neighbours, it is vitally important we do as much as we possibly can now to stop COVID in its tracks.
“We are calling for a fair share commitment to COVAX of AUD 250 million and a further AUD 50 million to address vaccine hesitancy.
“We also call on the Australian Government to make a commitment to share vaccines through COVAX to ensure we get vaccines to everyone who needs one everywhere.
“Australia’s existing procurement and domestic manufacturing capability should mean we are well-positioned to scale up our sharing capacity.
“Current estimates, even accounting for boosters, indicate we will have an excess of 100 million doses.
“With a concerted, realistic global push we can vaccinate nine in ten people across the world by the end of next year.
“Australia can and should do more to not only vaccinate those in the poorest countries but help them rebuild from the devastation inflicted on them by the COVID-19 pandemic.”