Greta Thunberg backs Covid vaccine inequity fight

Geneva (AFP) –


Swedish climate campaigner Greta Thunberg on Monday slammed the "tragedy" of vaccine inequity as she donated 100,000 euros ($120,000) from her foundation to the Covax scheme for global access to Covid-19 jabs.

The donation to the World Health Organization (WHO) Foundation will support the purchase of vaccines destined for the most vulnerable populations and health workers in some of the world's poorest countries.

"The international community must do more to address the tragedy that is vaccine inequity," 18-year-old Thunberg said.

"We have the means at our disposal to correct the great imbalance that exists around the world today in the fight against Covid-19. Just as with the climate crisis, we must help those who are the most vulnerable first."

She said Covax "offers the best path forward to ensure true vaccine equity and a way out of the pandemic".

Nearly 900 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines have been injected in at least 206 territories around the world, according to an AFP count.

Some 48 percent of the doses have been administered in high-income countries accounting for 16 percent of the global population.

Just 0.1 percent have been administered in the 29 lowest-income countries, home to nine percent of the world's population.

- $2 billion needed -

The Covax facility ensures the 92 poorest participating economies can access coronavirus jabs, with the cost covered by donors.

Since the first shipment landed in Ghana on February 24, Covax has delivered more than 39 million doses to 114 participating territories.

Covax is co-led by the WHO, the Gavi vaccine alliance, and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations.

The scheme is aiming to distribute enough doses to vaccinate up to 27 percent of the population in the 92 poorest participating economies by the end of the year.

The facility on Thursday launched a push for an extra $2 billion in donations, saying it needed the money in advance to reserve Covid vaccine doses throughout the rest of the year.

Some $400 million was raised at Thursday's opening donor conference, while Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga will host a Covax funding summit focused on the 92 countries in June.

- Environment link -

"Greta Thunberg has inspired millions of people worldwide to take action to address the climate crisis, and her strong support of vaccine equity to fight the Covid-19 pandemic yet again demonstrates her commitment to making our world a healthier, safer and fairer place for all people," said WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

"I urge the global community to follow Greta's example and do what they can, in support of Covax, to protect the world's most vulnerable people from this pandemic."

The WHO has consistently made the link between human health, animal health and the health of the planet during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The novel coronavirus, which is thought to have made the species jump from the animal world, has now killed more than three million people worldwide since the outbreak emerged in China in December 2019.

Thunberg said earlier this month that she plans to skip the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow this November, saying the uneven rollout of Covid vaccine campaigns would mean countries could not participate on even terms.

While the climate crisis has been largely overshadowed by the pandemic, COP26 is seen as one of the opportunities to put the climate back on the agenda, following a summit to be hosted this week by US President Joe Biden.