Australia’s role in vaccinating the world against COVID-19
COVID-19 cases across the globe, and
people across the world have been pushed into extreme poverty.
COVID-19 and its knock-on impacts have affected almost every one of the world’s 7.9 billion people but not all equally.
The pandemic has disproportionately affected the world’s most vulnerable. New waves continue to sweep through Southeast Asia and Africa, as many countries battle the highly transmissible Delta variant and other variants of concern. There is widespread under-reporting of cases and health systems are at breaking point.
In Australia we thought we had crushed COVID-19. For a brief period, Australia enjoyed months of living largely free of the virus. While the virus continued to ravage other parts of the world.
But then the virus mutated and restrictions returned. Our current response, mass vaccination, offers renewed protection. But unless everyone, everywhere receives this protection, the virus will continue to spread and mutate. That is why it really isn’t over for anyone until it is over for everyone.
There is an urgent need for the world to come together to ensure that safe, effective vaccines make it into the arms of people around the world. And we believe Australia has a vital role to play in this.
are fully vaccinated globally.
of people have received at least one dose.
Vaccination rates for low income countries around the world are dangerously low. At the rates of vaccination in July and August 2021, only Mozambique, Nepal and Tajikistan are on track to reach the target of 70% of the population fully vaccinated by the end of 2022. Only Malawi, Rwanda, Afghanistan and Sierra Leone will achieve the same target by the end of the decade.
The remaining 23 low income countries have such low rates of vaccination that achieving a 70% coverage target is projected to be beyond 2030. This rate of vaccination continuing unaddressed creates risks of new variants, undermines health security, will continue to have global economic consequences and risks political instability.
Data as at 5 October
Data as at 5 October
Extreme poverty: For the first time in decades human development has gone backwards - a direct result of COVID-19. The World Bank estimates 150 million more people will end up in extreme poverty as a result of the pandemic.
Health: A recent pulse survey by the World Health Organization of 135 countries found 90% of countries reporting one or more disruptions to essential health services. A recent Global Fund report found significant disruption to diagnoses and treatment of infectious diseases In facilities in seven countries across Asia, malaria diagnosis fell 56 per cent and malaria treatment services plummeted by 59 per cent.
Education: 1.5 billion children have been impacted by school closures due to COVID-19. 463 million children have been unable to access remote learning due to a lack of internet access at home.
Food Security: Between 720 and 811 million people in the world faced hunger in 2020 – as many as 161 million more than in 2019, before the pandemic.
Mortality: The existing health situation in low income countries is shocking. Maternal mortality is 70 times higher than in Australia. Neonatal mortality is 11 times higher than in Australia. The mortality rate for children under five is 18 times higher than in Australia and life expectancy is 18 years shorter. This will only get worse the longer health systems in low income countries are impacted by COVID-19.
People in poorer countries are not being vaccinated fast enough. By 2030, the poorest 20 nations will have vaccinated only three in ten people according to current trends. This is unjust and unwise. It gives the virus more time to spread and mutate, while decimating economies and societies the word over. We are determined to fix it. Australia must play a leading role in vaccinating the world.
With a concerted, realistic global push we can vaccinate nine in ten people in the world by the end of next year. Using our plan we can mitigate the risk of further mutations and save lives across the globe. Helping to vaccinate the world will strengthen Australia’s reputation and speed up Australia’s post-COVID economic recovery.
Equally, we have a chance to highlight the immense power of global co-operation in the battle against COVID-19. If we can come together to fight the pandemic, it demonstrates our ability to tackle longer term challenges facing our globe such as achieving the Sustainable Development Goals and tackling the existential threat of climate change.