Billie Eilish Joins Stars Urging G7 Leaders to Donate Vaccines Now — Or Risk Wasting Them
Selena Gomez, David Beckham, Liam Payne, and more signed the letter sent by UNICEF.
When you see names like Billie Eilish, David Beckham, and Liam Payne on the bill, you know it’s worth paying attention.
The last time the stars came together, it was for One World: Together At Home — the super-gig we put on in April 2020 that raised $127.9 million to help fight COVID-19.
Now, they’re joining a host of celebrities from the Global Citizen family and beyond in calling on the leaders of G7 countries to urgently donate surplus vaccines, or risk them going to waste.
Ahead of the G7 Summit being hosted by the UK in Cornwall, England, from June 11, the stars have signed an open letter organised by international children’s charity UNICEF, urging leaders to donate 20% of their excess vaccines by August.
UNICEF insists that time is of critical importance: if rich countries donate vaccines all at once, then poor countries won’t have the resources to distribute them.
That’s one reason why it’s vital that vaccines must be shared immediately — so that there’s a steady supply, without overwhelming health systems and vaccines potentially going to waste.
"Low income countries need a steady supply that they can get off the tarmac and into the arms of health care workers," said Lily Caprani, UNICEF’s vaccine lead.
"The unintended consequence of saving all these vaccines up to Christmas time is that countries won't be able to absorb them and roll them out and therefore they could end up going to waste,” she continued. “We could see millions of doses of vaccines not used and expiring, and that will be a tragedy."
The open letter to the leaders of the G7 nations says the vaccine donations could happen “without significant delay to current plans to vaccinate their adult populations”.
Between just the G7 countries — the UK, US, Germany, France, Canada, Italy, and Japan — 150 million vaccines could be delivered to low-income nations.
In addition to Eilish, Beckham, and Payne, Vax Live host Selena Gomez, Global Citizen Ambassador Priyanka Chopra Jonas, and Global Goal: Unite for Our Future star Olivia Colman were among the legendary signatories for the letter, which also includes Katy Perry, Andy Murray, Ewan McGregor, Orlando Bloom, Gemma Chan, Whoopi Goldberg, Claudia Schiffer, Chris Hoy, Liam Neeson, Sergio Ramos, P!nk, and more.
"The pandemic will not be over anywhere until it is over everywhere," David Beckham said.
In the @FinancialTimes today, David Beckham, Olivia Coleman, Gemma Chan & others tell G7 leaders...— UNICEF UK Campaigns (@UNICEFuk_action) June 8, 2021
“The pandemic will not be over anywhere until it is over everywhere" #DonateDosesNow 🌍 💉https://t.co/WIUrYaLSUF
UNICEF’s letter said that while the organisation was already delivering vaccines on the ground, working with COVAX, a vaccine-sharing facility set up by organisations including the World Health Organization, 190 million doses are urgently needed just to meet the short-term gap in demand.
“This weekend’s G7 Summit is a vital opportunity for you to agree the actions that will get vaccines where they are most needed, fast,” the letter reads.
It added: “The hopes of the world rest on your shoulders. Together, you must rise to this challenge. Let’s build a healthier, brighter and fairer future for every child and for everyone.”
It follows another letter sent to G7 leaders on Monday from more than 100 former prime ministers, presidents, and foreign ministers, including former UK prime ministers Gordon Brown and Tony Blair, demanding that the $66 billion (£46.6 billion) funding gap to get tests, treatments, and vaccines to low-income countries must be met by wealthy nations.
In a call for “global cooperation”, there were 15 former African leaders who also signed the letter, including ex-presidents FW de Klerk of South Africa, John Mahama of Ghana, and Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria, according to the Guardian.
The plan set out by the letter was described by Brown as “the best insurance policy in the world”. He said that immediate action could save $9 trillion by 2025.
Global Citizen is also calling on G7 leaders to urgently share at least 1 billion vaccine doses with low-income countries by September, and 2 billion doses by the end of the year. You can join the campaign and take action, including by signing a petition and tweeting world leaders, here.
We’re also directly demanding that UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, as host of the G7 Summit, uses this moment as an opportunity to commit to a timeline to donate its 100 million surplus vaccines. You can call on Johnson here.