andy Frain 120

Andy Frain

Former Campaigns and Public Affairs Manager

Charities Aid Foundation

GoGiveOne: The Importance of Making Vaccines Available Globally

23 June 2021


CAF is supporting the GoGiveOne campaign, which aims to make vaccines available to people in lower-income countries. The money raised goes to the Gavi COVAX AMC and CAF is facilitating Gift Aid on donations to the campaign, helping add an extra vaccine for every four donated.

Campaigns & Public Affairs Manager Andy Frain explains why CAF is backing the campaign and explores the topic of vaccine nationalism.

Global Action

Surrounded by Cornwall’s stunning sandy beaches, the G-7 met earlier this month and pledged over a billion vaccinations donations to the rest of the world between them. For his part, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that the UK would share 100 million surplus vaccine doses with the world’s poorest nations, and that the UK would start by delivering 5 million doses by the end of September.

In any walk of life these are huge numbers, but when the scale of the problem is global then the response has to reflect that – and it is clear in this instance that far more vaccines will be needed.

The contrast between the wealthy Global North and its southern equivalent is stark.

According to recent data collected by Duke University's Global Health Innovation Center, high-income countries have secured 4.2 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines, compared to only 670 million acquired by low-income countries.

By February this year, the UK had secured 400 million doses in total — more than six times its total population. Similarly, Canada had secured 362 million doses for its 38 million people by the end of January, enough for more than nine doses per person.

Vaccine Inequality

After handling a health crisis for more than a year, the rush by Governments to vaccinate domestic populations is an understandable one. Whilst the various vaccines available have surpassed all expectations for efficacy, this was in no way guaranteed when wealthy Governments paid for access to a series of different vaccine programmes in the early stages of the pandemic and there is logic in those Governments being able to reap the benefits of their decision to do so.

We are, however, reaching the point where the inequality of the vaccine rollout is neither logical nor sustainable. Whereas the a majority of the elderly or vulnerable populations of the UK, US and much of Europe have already been fully vaccinated against the virus, the young and the healthy of these countries are being vaccinated well before far more exposed populations elsewhere in the world.

The UK, despite the serious Delta variant making up the overwhelming majority of Covid cases, has seen hospitalisations and Covid deaths fall dramatically since the vaccine rollout started towards the end of last year and similar effects have been seen across other well-vaccinated countries. The message is clear - vaccines save lives and at present billions of people are being denied access to them all around the world.

The Case for Change

There is an evident moral case for wealthy countries to donate and support vaccine rollouts internationally, but it would be wrong to portray it purely as an act of noble self-sacrifice – there is a real and genuine practical benefit to a global recovery from the pandemic.

Ahead of the G7 summit, Johnson’s predecessors  Gordon Brown and Tony Blair joined 230 other prominent figures in signing an open letter to the G7 countries calling on them to make up the funding gap to help vaccinate low-income countries against Covid-19.

The open letter to the G7 said: “Support from the G7 and G20 that makes vaccines readily accessible to low- and middle-income countries is not an act of charity, but rather is in every country’s strategic interest, and as described by the IMF is ‘the best public investment in history.'”

Most prominently, the health risk of so many people being left without protection is vast. So far, vaccines have proven resistant to all variants of the virus but as long as the virus is allowed to spread through unvaccinated communities there remains the potential for more resistant new variants to develop all over the world. If such a strain were to develop, the progress even in vaccinated countries could be set back dramatically.

Not all countries have had the same stringent “lockdowns” seen in Europe and elsewhere during the course of the pandemic, but almost every country in the world has had some form of restrictions in place in order to limit the spread of the disease. Limits on international travel look to be in place for the foreseeable future and many countries have cut off large sections of their economies under the justification of public health.

This suppression of economic activity has depressed international trade and had a damaging effect on global economic output. This is immensely damaging to all countries, rich and poor, and in February Secretary-General of the OECD Angel Gurria predicted that rich countries would see their economies shrink by trillions of dollars if they don't do more to help poorer countries receive vaccines.

The letter to the G7 echoes this, describing support as “the best public investment in history.” Gordon Brown called their plan “the best insurance policy in the world” and said that bold action now could save around $9 trillion within five years.

The only way to get a handle on this issue is to have a transfer of vaccines towards less well off countries. The G7 brought some positive action and encouraging words but the truth is that until the world is vaccinated, Covid-19 will continue to damage economies and lives all over the world. It is for this reason that CAF is supporting the GoGiveOne campaign, which aims to make vaccines available to people everywhere. The money raised through the campaign goes to the Gavi COVAX AMC, which funds COVID-19 vaccines for lower-income countries, and CAF is helping make donations go further through Gift Aid and other schemes.