Norway’s Minister of International Development Dag Inge Ulstein tweeted on Monday that Norway will donate COVID-19 vaccine doses to the World Health Organization (WHO) and the ACT-Accelerator to ensure the equal distribution of the vaccine worldwide.
“Norway will contribute to the fight against the global pandemic through donation of vaccines as soon as relevant candidates are approved,” Ulsetin told Global Citizen.
The country plays a leading role in the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator, a global organization working to end the pandemic as quickly, effectively, and equitably as possible by uniting world leaders, global health actors, and private sector organizations. So far, Norway has provided 4.5 billion Norwegian Krone (roughly US $530 million) to support the ACT-Accelerator, according to Ulstein.
The minister confirmed that the distribution of the vaccine doses would take place at the same time as domestic vaccinations in Norway.
“We cannot wait until every citizen in rich countries is vaccinated before we start vaccinating people in the low-income countries,” Ulstein said.
Norway will donate extra doses of covid-19 vaccines through the @WHO and @ACTaccelerator- backed COVAX facility to be distributed in lower-income countries. We must ensure vaccines bring hope to all, not just some. @DrTedros— Dag Inge Ulstein (@dagiulstein) January 18, 2021
Other countries, including Canada and New Zealand, have also made commitments to assist countries that do not have enough resources to roll out an extensive vaccination program on their own.
High-income countries are facing increasing international pressure to support the global distribution of vaccines to lower-income countries.
United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres has warned about the impact of vaccine nationalism before.
“Science is succeeding — but solidarity is failing,” Guterres said, according to the AP. “Vaccines are reaching high-income countries quickly, while the world’s poorest have none at all.”
Although rich nations only represent 14% of the global population, they have purchased 53% of vaccine doses, the People’s Vaccine Alliance, which includes organizations Amnesty International, Frontline AIDS, Global Justice Now, and Oxfam, reported last month.
Duke’s Global Health Institute also found that if inequitable vaccine distribution occurs, it could take five years before COVID-19 vaccines reach countries in sub-Saharan Africa.
Without global support, citizens in lower-income countries may not be able to vaccinate essential workers and at risk-populations, let alone their entire population.
“Ensuring COVID-19 vaccines reach people in the world’s poorest countries isn’t just about being charitable or acting on a moral imperative,” Ulstein said. “It’s also in the best interest of every country to do so. If the virus is circulating in one country, the rest of the world remains at risk.”