Editor’s note: This piece was updated on Feb. 7, 2021 to include new COVID-19 response figures from the Canadian government.
COVID-19 has claimed the lives of more than 1.5 million people. It is projected to push as many as 115 million people into extreme poverty, with 265 million expected to face acute food insecurity by the end of 2020. Millions of children are out of school — and some will never go back.
The stakes are high, the needs are significant, and it’s clearer than ever before that we’re all in this together.
The COVID-19 pandemic is a global crisis demanding a global response, and no one will be safe and secure until we end COVID-19 everywhere.
In order to bring an end to the pandemic around the world, major funding is needed (US $38 billion) for the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator, a groundbreaking partnership including the World Health Organization (WHO), Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, that’s leading the international effort to develop and distribute COVID-19 tests, treatments, and vaccines to lower-income countries.
Funding is also needed to alleviate the related hunger, education, and poverty crises the pandemic has caused, and help the most vulnerable populations cope as access to COVID-19 medical tools is scaled up.
That’s why Global Citizen, the ONE Campaign, and Results Canada have been campaigning since the start of the pandemic for Canada to direct 1% of the money spent responding to COVID-19 at home towards global relief efforts. Nearly 100 other Canadian organizations have also supported the call.
Think about it: 1%. It sounds small — and it is relative to the hundreds of billions the country has spent at home — but would make a huge impact globally.
Not only is this the right thing to do to help the poorest countries tackle the virus and its devastating effects — it’s also the smart thing to do.
Even if we are able to get the virus under control at home with the introduction of promising vaccines, it’s still unclear how long vaccine protection will last and whether new strains will emerge. COVID-19 does not respect borders, so if people in other countries are unable to access vaccines, the risk to global health security remains. When it comes to COVID-19, helping others means boosting our own health security.
It’s also good for our economy. New research from the Eurasia Group reveals that for every $1 Canada invests in the global response and a fully funded ACT-Accelerator, it will get back over $5.60 in economic returns. This is based on an assessment of how the pandemic is affecting key sectors of the Canadian economy, including tourism, education, manufacturing, financial services, and IT.
Most importantly, a truly global pandemic response will save more lives. If all countries receive the first 3 billion vaccine doses fairly in proportion to their populations, deaths could be reduced nearly twice as much compared to if the first vaccines are only available in rich countries.
Canadian leaders have already stepped up in a major way for the global COVID-19 response, with nearly $1.6 billion in pledges, including $898 million to the ACT-Accelerator. But there is still more to be done. Canada can show true leadership by showing its commitment to ending COVID-19 so that the world can recover better — together.