Corporate Ireland is being called to match the 1.5 million Covid vaccines delivered to lower-income countries by the Irish public.
The vaccines were funded with the Get a Vaccine, Give a Vaccine campaign by Unicef Ireland, which invited those getting vaccinated in Ireland to donate the cost of one to someone in need.
The non-profit is now encouraging Irish businesses to support its efforts in vaccinating the worldwide population, with seven senior Irish business leaders penning an open letter in support of the campaign.
Unicef Ireland executive director, Peter Power, told Newstalk radio he hopes the corporate community will show as much support as the Irish people.
“Irish people came together to deliver 1.5 million vaccines to countries without access, so now we’re asking the corporate community to match that enthusiastic response by joining this new corporate alliance,” he said.
“And Unicef is in a unique position really to work with Irish companies, because we currently vaccinate two billion children throughout the year, and this year we’re doubling that capacity to four billion.”
The letter signed by Irish business chiefs urges fellow executives to join the Unicef Corporate Vaccine Alliance, adding that “corporate Ireland can help change the trajectory of the pandemic by accelerating the global rollout of Covid-19 vaccines.”
“We stand at a pivotal moment for the world economy. Ireland’s successful vaccination programme has allowed the phased reopening of our economy,” the letter says.
“And while we are proud of Ireland’s over 90 per cent vaccination rate, many of the world’s poorest countries have vaccination rates of less than 5 per cent. This is not right – from both a moral and economic point of view.
“Ensuring fair and equitable vaccine distribution and localised access to all countries, regardless of their economic stature, is the key to ending the pandemic and rebuilding the global economy.
No economy can hope to prosper until the global pandemic ends
“Just as no one is safe until everyone is safe – no economy can hope to prosper until the global pandemic ends.”
Unicef is currently leading the global procurement and delivery of vaccines under the COVAX initiative, using its experience of vaccinating almost half the world’s children each year.
The initiative aims to deliver over two billion vaccines by the end of the year and is co-led by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, and the World Health Organisation.
Investment pooled by Irish members of the Unicef Corporate Vaccine Alliance will support vaccine procurement and delivery with cold chain storage, logistics and health worker training.
Investment will furthermore support the vaccination of health workers, the elderly and other vulnerable groups, while also addressing vaccine hesitancy and aiding rapid responses to emergency outbreaks.