UNICEF Ambassador, others write G20 leaders, urge donation of COVID-19 vaccines to Africa

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By Rosemary Ogbonnaya

A call to reduce COVID-19 deaths has received boost as United Nations Children’s Fund, UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Angelique Kidjo and other African influencers have signed an open letter to G20 leaders calling on them to urgently donate COVID-19 vaccines to Africa.

The letter, as contained in a statement obtained from UNICEF on Monday said, “Many rich countries are already on track, yet just a fraction of Africans are fully vaccinated. COVID-19 deaths are declining almost everywhere except in Africa, where they are rising.

“Rich nations have pledged to donate over a billion vaccines this year and hundreds of millions more in 2022, as well as supporting Africa to manufacture and buy its own vaccines. This gives us hope, but most of these promises remain unfulfilled. Africa cannot wait. We need doses now.”

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The statement disclosed that top Nigerians in the field of business and entertainment joined the call, including musician and UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Femi Kuti, business leader and philanthropist Tony Elumelu; musician and UNICEF Nigerian Ambassador Cobhams Asuquo; actor and producer Genevieve Nnaji, and actor Daniel Etim Effiong.

The signatories were asking fellow Africans to support the letter over the next month in the run up to the G20 meetings in Rome at the end of October.

Also, the Nigerian singer and songwriter David Adedeji Adeleke (Davido) issued a special video message urging that vaccines should be shared fairly with Africa, saying “For this pandemic to truly end, it has to end everywhere. Africans must have their fair access to the vaccines. This is the only way the Covid-19 can get out of here. As an African, as a Nigerian, I support UNICEF’s call on governments with excess doses to share them now. Let us join hands together to ensure fair access to vaccines for everyone.”

It would be recalled that World leaders recently set a target that every country should vaccinate 70 per cent of its population. Some wealthy countries have already met or exceeded this target.

But across Africa, only 4 per cent of the population are fully vaccinated, with vastly accelerated dose-sharing the only option to protect people from the worst effects of the virus.

The open letter also reads, “This inequity is unjust. It is also self-defeating. It leaves Africans – and the whole world – at the mercy of the virus. Unchecked, it can create new and more dangerous variants.”

Angelique Kidjo, UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador said, “I want the most at risk Africans to be safe, to not die or end up in hospital with COVID-19 because they didn’t have access to vaccines. The only way that is possible is to urgently vaccinate much higher numbers of people in African countries – and we need doses and support for vaccine roll outs to do that quickly enough.”

“Countries with excess doses have pledged to donate a billion vaccines this year and hundreds of millions more in 2022, as well as support Africa to manufacture and buy its own vaccines.

“I am calling on my fellow Africans to get behind this letter, to support the Call from Africa,” said Angelique Kidjo. “Because we cannot wait for promises to be fulfilled, we need vaccines NOW, in the health centres of our countries, and in the arms of our health workers and most vulnerable brothers and sisters.”

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