World leaders must prioritise immediate global vaccination roll-out to avoid further COVID-19 mutant strains 

2 December 2021 - As the world faces Omicron, another COVID-19 variant of concern, international aid agency World Vision is warning that the world's fragile nations are doomed to keep reliving their worst days due to vaccine inequity, disparities and hesitancy, as well as gaps in health systems, lack of training for health workers, and poor vaccine distribution mechanisms to reach the most vulnerable.

The impact of COVID-19 on vulnerable children and families will only intensify for everyone everywhere as this continues to leave the door open for further mutations. Deliberate and focused actions, on a global and local scale, by the international community, governments and civil society are critical to address these disparities and inequities in vaccine roll-outs. Currently: 

  • The least wealthy 25 countries still have less than 1% of vaccine doses (in the last 6 months, only an additional 0.6% of people living in those countries have received vaccines).  
  • The 77 least wealthy countries have just a quarter of all the available vaccines, but are home to almost half the world's population while the wealthiest 106 countries have three jabs out of every four manufactured, for just half the global population. 
  • The UNGA’s goal of 10% vaccination by the end of September 2021 still has not been reached by 27 countries – and that’s just for one dose, the number rises to 37 when you consider whether people have been fully vaccinated. 

Inresponse to the emerging news around the COVID-19 Omicron variant, Dan Irvine, Senior Director, Health and Nutrition, World Vision International, said:

“The virus is adapting faster than our efforts to control it,” says Dan Irvine, Senior Director, Health and Nutrition, World Vision International. “None of us is completely safe until all of us are vaccinated, which is why World Vision is urging the acceleration of a more equitable global roll-out of vaccines to be funded and supported by all governments. To achieve the shared goal of the fastest possible universal coverage, wealthy countries must work together with low- and middle-income countries to guarantee that vaccine supplies are not only accessible for all but also prepared for vaccine roll-outs. That means enabling health systems, training workers, planning vaccine messaging and equipping distributions to reach the most vulnerable and hard-to-reach populations.”  

Mark Kelly, Regional Leader, World Vision Southern Africa said: 

“The uneven distribution of vaccines not only leaves the disease unchecked, allowing new and potentially more deadly variants to emerge, but also leaves behind less vaccinated countries to have their citizens and economies decimated by waves of COVID-19 infections. The faster everyone can get vaccinated everywhere, the less time COVID-19 variants will have to mutate and spread. Expecting poorer and more vulnerable nations who are often also facing compounded crises, such as hunger and conflict, in addition to trying to fight the pandemic, is a disproportionate burden; it is simply too much to expect them to be able to rebound from this without global support.” 

“Governments across Southern Africa are already proactively taking action to minimise the risk to their citizens and the further spread of the disease; however, rather than implementing punitive travel bans that will harm the still-fragile prioritise support for universal vaccinations for all people, not just those living inthewealthiestcountries. This pandemic will not end until all are protected.”  

World Vision’s impact:  

  • World Vision’s global COVID-19 Response (COVER) is responding to the devastating impact of COVID-19 in more than 70 countries. Since the beginning of the response, World Vision has reached more than 72 million people, including more than 31 million children with efforts to limit the spread of COVID-19 and reduce its impact on vulnerable children and families.

ENDS.  

Note to editor

For further information or to organise an interview, please contact:

Joanne Legin | Media Officer, World Vision International | Joanne_legin@wvi.org | Skype: jlegin | Phone: +1416-738-7720

World Visionis a Christian humanitarian organisation dedicated to working with children, families and their communities to reach their full potential by tackling the root causes of poverty andinjustice.World Vision serves all people, regardless of religion, race, ethnicity or gender.  For more information, please visit www.wvi.org or follow us on Twitter @WorldVision.