A ‘Shot of Hope’ is the name of a report launched this week from the End COVID For All coalition, that encourages Australia’s role in vaccinating the world against COVID-19. But it is also an appropriate statement for the current status of the End COVID For All campaign which is achieving increasingly hopeful outcomes.
The report was co-authored by an Expert Advisory Group of researchers, analysts, and leaders including: Burnet Institute, Australian Global Health Alliance, Pacific Friends of Global Health, UNICEF Australia, Micah Australia and more.
It makes the case for an ambitious, expansive, and intelligent investment to vaccinate the world, highlighting the role of the Australian Government in that, and respectfully indicating the capacity we have as a nation to do so, together.
The End COVID For All (ECFA) nationwide campaign is in its second year of running now. Gratefully, the founding statement that the COVID-19 pandemic is ‘not over for anyone, until it is over for everyone’ has become a well-known statement among the Australian Parliament, Churches, and within the Australian Aid and Development sector.
As we now look beyond this, the hope of Micah Australia is that we can represent the cry of justice in Australia, to see our Country take a lead in vaccinating the most vulnerable across our world- those who have been hit the hardest by this pandemic.
There have now been a total of 235 million cases of COVID-19 across the globe and 4.8 million deaths worldwide.
The pandemic has disproportionately affected the world’s most vulnerable; an additional 150 million people across the world being pushed into extreme poverty, the humanitarian crisis is far from over.
There is an urgent need for the world to come together to ensure that safe, effective vaccines make it into the arms of people around the world. And we believe Australia has a vital role to play in this.
It is astounding to think that in low income countries, only 2.3% of people have received at least one COVID-19 Vaccine dose.
There are 23 low income countries that have such low rates of vaccination that achieving a 70% coverage target is projected to be beyond 2030.
This rate of vaccination continuing unaddressed creates risks of new variants, undermines health security, will continue to have global economic consequences and risks political instability.
The global vaccine effort is dangerously off-track, unfair and unjust.
Seven Key Recommendations:
Below are the seven key recommendations the End COVID For All Coalition are calling on the Australian government to commit to as an expression of their commitment to global vaccination:
1. COVAX Finance Commitment:
- Contributing a fair share to the global COVAX facility by making an additional AUD 250 million commitment
- Make a commitment to share 20 million vaccines through the COVAX facility
2. COVAX Vaccine Sharing Commitment:
- Commit to vaccine equity for all frontline workers and vulnerable groups around the world
- Commit AUD 50 million to addressing vaccine hesitancy
3. Vaccine Equity:
- Australia’s mass domestic rollout of booster shots, beyond priority groups, in 2022 must be accompanied by accelerated and expanded efforts by Australia to ensure that our region and the world’s most vulnerable populations have improved access to safe and effective vaccines.
4. Addressing Vaccine Hesitancy:
- The Australian Government invests at least 10% of the AUD 500 million Vaccine Access and Health Security Initiative into addressing vaccine hesitancy in Southeast Asia and the Pacific through strengthened partnerships with trusted, community led organisations. 4.2
- The Australian Government reports publicly at least monthly on its bilateral sharing commitments including dosages delivered and administered at a country level.
5. Respond to Delta Beyond Vaccines:
- The Australian Government commits AUD 170 million to the Rapid ACT-Accelerator Delta Response (RADAR) urgent appeal.
- The Australian Government establishes a rapid response framework and fund which can be triggered by predetermined thresholds to deliver a surge response to outbreaks in the Indo-Pacific region.
6. Scaling Australia’s Regional Response:
- The Australian Government invests in domestic production capability to produce an additional 50-100 million vaccines to sell at cost in southeast Asia.
- The Australian Government supports the establishment of a World Health Organization
7. Rebuilding our region and the world:
- The Australian Government commitments to vaccine equity and responding to outbreaks are in addition to the existing Australian aid budget of AUD 4 billion and existing temporary and targeted measures.
- The Australian aid budget continues to grow in line with the effort required to respond to the growth in extreme poverty in our region and around the world as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In the words of Tim Costello:
“We cannot ignore the moral imperative we have to help our poorest neighbours”.
If not us, then who? And if not now, then when? We believe that it is not only the moral move for our country, but the smart move, and for the benefit of all.