Shot of Hope

Australia’s role in vaccinating the world against COVID-19

Explore the case for an ambitious, expansive, and intelligent investment to vaccinate the world, co-authored by Australia’s leading global health and aid organisations, with support from over 200 business, faith, union, tourism, and academic groups
WHERE WE STAND TODAY

There have been a total of

255

MILLION

COVID-19 cases across the globe, and

5.1

MILLION

deaths worldwide.

And an additional

150

MILLION

people across the world have been pushed into extreme poverty.

COVID has impacted the world but not equally

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.

WHERE WE STAND TODAY

So far, only

3.28

BILLION

are fully vaccinated globally.

In low income countries, only

5%

of people have received at least one dose.

The global vaccine effort is dangerously off-track, unfair and unjust

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.

WHERE WE STAND TODAY

But some Countries are More vulnerable Than others.

BURKINA FASO
1.3%
Fully vaccinated
Papua New Guinea
3%
Fully vaccinated
Afghanistan
8%
Fully vaccinated

Data as at 22 November
https://ourworldindata.org/grapher/covid-vaccination-doses-per-capita?

VACCINE DOSES PER 100 PEOPLE
BURKINA FASO
1.3%
Fully vaccinated
Afghanistan
8%
Fully vaccinated
Papua newguinea
3%
Fully vaccinated

Data as at 22 November
https://ourworldindata.org/grapher/covid-vaccination-doses-per-capita?

COVID is having a devastating impact on hunger and poverty. We risk reversing decades of progress.

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.

THE PATH OF INACTION

There are two paths the world can take

The path of inaction will have a high cost  for people across the globe.

MutationS
The rise of the Delta variant across the world has demonstrated the critical need for rapid, and widespread vaccination. Without this, there is a significant risk that variants will not respond to existing vaccines or boosters, similar to what has been seen with multi-drug resistant tuberculosis.
Vaccine waits of Up to one decade
At the current pace, the poorest 20 nations will have vaccinated just over three in 10 people by 2030. This rate of vaccination continuing unaddressed creates further risks of variants, undermines global health security, sets back human development, and risks political instability.
Global extreme Poverty will increase
150 million more people will end up in extreme poverty as a result of the pandemic. Inaction risks reversing decades of hard won gains in poverty reduction, health, education, food security, and gender and disability inclusion. To achieve the goal of ending extreme poverty by 2030 will require both immediate action to end the acute phase of the pandemic and long-term investments in rebuilding.
Costs to Australian economy
Opening international borders is essential to the recovery of those sectors in our economy that are highly reliant on international travel and migration, including agriculture, international tourism and tertiary education. International tourism contributes an estimated $45 billion to our national GDP which has virtually halted, while the university sector contributes more than $21 billion to the economy. Without action, the agriculture sector alone is expected to see a shortfall of 26,000 workers and losses in the peak harvest season of $45 million due to a worker shortage.
THE PATH OF ACTION

However, we’re proposing a path to health, prosperity, & fairness.

Doing our fair Share on vaccines
Australia needs to commit its fair share of $250m to the COVAX facility in finance and agree to supply a further 20 million vaccine doses, in addition to our regional commitments. There must be vaccine equity for frontline workers and vulnerable groups.
Building the Trust chain
Australia needs to invest at least 50 million into addressing vaccine hesitancy in Southeast Asia and the Pacific through strengthened partnerships with trusted, community led organisations. Community engagement is the cornerstone to building trust and vaccine confidence in diverse communities and groups.
Responding to Delta
Australia needs to commit $170 million to the Rapid ACT-Accelerator Delta Response (RADAR) urgent appeal. The appeal will be used for ten times more testing, with an emphasis on lower income countries, oxygen for the seriously ill, protective gear for 2 million healthcare workers, research and development to keep pace with the virus and technical support.
Scaling up Australia’s regional response
Due to the scale of the crisis, we need to look beyond official development assistance and vaccine sharing. As the national vaccine rollout picks up, there are opportunities for Australia to invest in domestic production to produce an additional 50 to 100 million vaccines to sell at cost in Southeast Asia.

Australia could also work with the WHO to establish a vaccine technology transfer hub, based on a similar model to a hub in South Africa to share technology for mRNA vaccines.
Maintaining and increasing Australia’s aid budget
It is crucial the recommended commitments do not detract from Australia’s existing aid budget. In light of the unprecedented nature of the pandemic, they should come as additional budget commitments, similar to those in other times of major global and regional disasters.

The Australian aid budget must continue to grow in line with the effort required to respond to the growth in extreme poverty in our region and around the world as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. There is already an increased need for investment in health, education, and protection systems.

Under this plan, Australia can
help lift global vaccination from

WHERE WE STAND TODAY

We can and must do more to #EndCOVIDForAll

Australia must play a leading role in vaccinating the world

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.

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