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UNICEF envoys urge G7 leaders to supply COVID-19 vaccines to poor countries



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By A Staff Reporter
Kathmandu, June 11:UNICEF Goodwill Ambassadors Priyanka Chopra Jonas, David Beckham, Katy Perry, Orlando Bloom, Whoopi Goldberg, Angélique Kidjo, and Liam Neeson have joined an extraordinary call by 28 high-profile UNICEF Ambassadors and Supporters demanding that G7 leaders commit to donating doses of COVID -19 vaccines to poorer countries, including Nepal.  
In an open letter, published on Tuesday ahead of the three-day G7 Leaders’ Summit, they urged the G7 leaders to commit to sharing a minimum of 20 per cent of COVID-19 vaccine dose supply urgently, to reduce the risk of the virus spreading further and the threat of mutant strains.  
The goodwill ambassadors are joining UNICEF in calling on G7 world leaders to donate doses and ensure fair and equitable vaccine supply to low- and middle- income countries, read a statement issued by UNICEF.
“The world has spent a year and a half battling the COVID-19 pandemic, but the virus is still spreading in many countries and producing new variants with the potential to put us all back where we started,” the letter reads.
“This means more school closures, more healthcare disruptions, and greater economic fallout – threating the futures of families and children everywhere.”
The letter warns that COVAX, the global initiative supporting poorer countries in gaining access to vaccines, is already facing a shortfall of 190 million doses, and proposes that, in order to help cover this shortfall, G7 countries donate 20 per cent of their vaccines between June and August – over 150 million doses – as a temporary stopgap measure to compensate for this shortfall.
“As a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador I believe in the crucial benefit of vaccinations,” a statement issued by UNICEF quoted David Beckham, UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador. “The pandemic won’t be over until it’s over everywhere, so it’s vital that all communities around the world have fair access to COVID -19 vaccines urgently.”
UNICEF is also warning that without urgently ensuring fair and equitable access supply, the world will continue to be at risk of deadly virus mutations – like the devastating second wave of COVID-19 sweeping across India and other South Asian countries including Nepal, Pakistan and Afghanistan. 
“It’s also of huge concern to all of us at UNICEF to hear about children falling ill with this new variant - while many are also losing parents and left alone and at risk, unable to access critical health care, vaccinations and education,” said Priyanka Chopra Jonas, UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador. 
Through its letter, the goodwill ambassadors urged the leaders to set out a roadmap to scale-up donations as supplies increase, noting that forecasts suggest as many as one billion doses may be available for donation by year end.
“Countries need not choose between fighting the disease at home or fighting it abroad. We can, and must, do both simultaneously – and immediately,” said Henrietta Fore, UNICEF Executive Director.
“This is a pivotal time in the fight against COVID-19, as leaders meet to set priorities for what form this fight will take in the coming weeks and months. I am pleased so many UNICEF supporters are joining our call for emergency support for COVAX, so we can continue to wage this fight globally. After all, the disease is not respecting boundaries on a map. Our fight to get ahead of the virus, and its variants, should not either.”