A NEW public campaign led by UNICEF to fund almost two billion Covid-19 vaccines for health workers and vulnerable people around the world has been set up with the help of the Bishop of Hertford, Dr Michael Beasley, and is backed by the Archbishop of Canterbury.
The VaccinAid campaign — “Give the world a shot” — was launched on Monday in partnership with the online fundraising platform Crowdfunder. It urges people who have had the vaccine to make a voluntary donation to the global COVAX programme, of which the UK is already a major donor (News, 27 January).
COVAX, led by the World Health Organization (WHO), is a global initiative, involving two-thirds of the world’s countries, to ensure that every person, regardless of wealth, will have access to Covid-19 vaccines once they are available.
Archbishop Welby, who has already expressed his gratitude for the UK’s £548-million donation to the COVAX programme, said on Monday that individuals, churches, and parishes could now contribute.
“The Covid-19 crisis has had a profound impact on people here and around the world, but vaccines offer the hope of a brighter future,” he said. “I’m delighted that churches and other faith groups in the UK are supporting the VaccinAid campaign. There is no better way to show our deep gratitude for the gifts of science and medicine than making sure vulnerable people around the world are also given a shot.
“At the heart of the Christian faith is Christ’s call to love our neighbour: keeping one another safe from this terrible disease is part of living that out. I encourage people to donate whatever they can, so we can build a better world together.”
Archbishop Welby was among the faith leaders who met the Government, alongside representatives of charitable organisations, to discuss how the UK, which has a well-established vaccine programme, could help countries to roll out vaccines. A similar campaign from Christian Aid was established a few months ago.
Dr Beasley, a former epidemiologist who helped to establish the campaign, said: “Covid-19 has affected us all — every home, family, school, business, and community all around the world. And because of the way this virus works, we know that it won’t be over for anyone until it’s over for everyone.
“VaccinAid . . . offers each of us the opportunity to play our individual part in bringing this worldwide epidemic to an end. If, like me, you’ve had your jab, you’ll know the feeling of relief, gratitude, and thankfulness that happens when you’ve been protected from Covid. I’d love the whole world to experience that feeling and protection, too. So let’s give the world a shot.”
VaccinAid is being supported by the Office of the Chief Rabbi and the Mosques and Imams National Advisory Board, as well as businesses, celebrities, and the NHS.
The interim executive director of UNICEF UK, Steven Waugh, said: “Having so many organisations and high-profile individuals come together to show their support for the appeal gives us a real chance of unlocking vital funds that will enable UNICEF to fulfil its critical mission of protecting the world against Covid-19.”
The chief executive of Crowdfunder, Rob Love, said that the platform had seen a sharp rise in people fundraising for Covid-19 causes in the past year. “By launching VaccinAid with Unicef to ‘give the world a shot’, we are harnessing the power of the crowd to help bring an end to the pandemic and its devastating impact.”