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Covid-19: No-one is safe until everyone is safe

Save the Children welcomes high-level political engagement to ensure equitable access to all Covid-19 tools and help bring an end to the pandemic.

The crisis we are all facing calls for a dramatic shift in ambition and urgency if the US, UK and other G7 countries want to demonstrate the global leadership they aspire to. We are seeing one pandemic but two realities, with 80% of vaccines having gone to high and upper-middle income countries – some of which are now considering 3rd doses – while many lower-income countries have yet to vaccinate even their most vulnerable citizens. 

We need to achieve 70% global vaccine coverage by mid-2022 and not delay any further. This goal is possible, but it requires a step change in the conduct of rich countries that have hoarded vaccines and denied measures to improve supply in lower-income countries. 

The short-sightedness of these few rich countries is failing the most vulnerable, and deep questions must be asked of those with the ability to save millions of lives that still choose not to. Yet this is not just a moral issue, but one of practical policy.

We know that no one is safe until everyone is safe – this is not a slogan but an epidemiological reality. We cannot leave the rest of the world to suffer, or we will reap what we sow when new, deadlier and more viral variants arrive on our shores. While we delay the global economy and international trade will continue to suffer (to the tune of $28 trillion over 5 years, according to IMF estimates), and decades of effort on economic development and health will be wiped out. 

Girl washing hands in India

We need a fully-costed and financed plan to develop and supply the COVID tools needed to end this pandemic, and to support the damaged domestic systems that need to deliver them. In COVAX, ACT-A and the COVID-19 Technology Access Pool we have the beginnings of this plan, but we need to go further and faster. Any plan must have clear, time-bound milestones that all stakeholders can be held accountable to. This will require concerted action and deep cooperation between governments, the private sector and civil society in the spirit of good faith and partnerships for development.

We all stand to lose from an even more protracted pandemic. No one is safe until everyone is safe. We have the tools to end this pandemic, and it far past time we matched that with action. 

Word leaders need to take bold actions to break the cycle of "panic and neglect" that we have so many times seen during health emergencies. It is only by investing in long term, sustainable financing that we will build strong and resilient health systems and universal health coverage. This is our ultimate goal.

A well-trained and motivated workforce, equitable service delivery and adequate levels of health financing are an essential foundation for effective preparedness and response to public health emergencies.

We need all relevant stakeholders to be held accountable to achieving targets that are collectively set and translated into concrete, time bound, actions.

Related links
Coronavirus Information and Advice
Blog: In the face of a pandemic, routine vaccines are the best way to save lives
Blog: My family lost 3 people to Covid in as many days
Blog: Vaccine waiver is great step

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