Greta Thunberg has been an outspoken activist for fighting climate change, urging government leaders to take measurable actions to prevent the overheating of the planet. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Thunberg has shifted her focus to ensuring vaccine equity, acknowledging that the world cannot make meaningful strides to help the environment until it ends COVID-19 for everyone.
To further promote vaccine equity, Thunberg announced on Monday via Twitter that her foundation will donate 100,000 euros (approximately $120,000 USD) to support the COVID-19 Vaccine Global Access Facility, also known as COVAX, which aims to deliver 2 billion vaccine doses to low-income countries by the end of 2021.
“Just as with the climate crisis, we must help those who are the most vulnerable first. That is why I am supporting WHO, Gavi, and all involved in the COVAX initiative, which I believe offers the best path forward to ensure true vaccine equity and a way out of the pandemic,” Thunberg said Monday during the WHO’s media briefing.
About 1 in 4 people in high-income countries have received a COVID-19 vaccine, compared with just 1 in more than 500 in low-income countries.— Greta Thunberg (@GretaThunberg) April 19, 2021
My foundation will donate €100000 to support COVAX to ensure a more equitable global COVID-19 vaccine distribution. #VaccineEquitypic.twitter.com/JKxZC4s8F7
Earlier this month, Thunberg tweeted that she would not attend COP26 — the United Nations’ annual climate change conference that will be held in Glasgow this year — due to concerns of vaccine inequality.
“Inequality and climate injustice is already the heart of the climate crisis,” she wrote. “If people can’t be vaccinated and travel to be represented equally, that’s undemocratic and would worsen the problem.”
Around the world, COVID-19 vaccines are not being distributed equitably.
In the US, for example, communities of color are undervaccinated compared to white people. Rural areas around the world, many of which are home to Indigenous communities, are experiencing a slow vaccine rollout, illuminating structural barriers to accessible health care. And many health care workers and vulnerable people in low- and middle-income countries have yet to receive a single dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, even as wealthier nations seek to inoculate their entire populations.
Currently, 1 in 4 people in high-income nations has received a COVID-19 vaccine, compared to 1 in more than 500 people living in low-income countries, according to CNBC.
COVAX, the vaccine pillar of the ACT-Accelerator, is hoping to end this disparity. Co-led by the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness (CEPI), Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, and the World Health Organization (WHO), COVAX seeks to promote an equitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccines. Its goal is to deliver 2 billion doses by the end of the year to vaccinate 20% of countries' populations and end the acute phase of the pandemic.
In February, COVAX delivered the first batch of vaccine doses to Ghana. Now, it has provided COVID-19 vaccines to more than 100 countries. To ensure vaccine equity, however, the COVAX facility relies on funding from government leaders, philanthropists, and corporate donors to deliver doses to 92 of the world’s poorest nations.
Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the director general of the WHO, thanked Thunberg for supporting vaccine equity and acknowledged that she is the youngest person to contribute to the initiative at 18 years old.
“I urge the global community to follow Greta’s example and do what they can, in support of COVAX, to protect the world’s most vulnerable people from this pandemic,” he said.