The G7 Summit takes place in the UK on 11-13 June 2021.
As world leaders meet, 127 Queen’s Nurses from across the UK have signed a joint letter to the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, urgently calling on him and the other G7 leaders to extend their support for the World Health Organization’s COVAX programme, which aims to vaccinate people in poorer countries that may otherwise not have access to the vital treatment.
The Director-General of the World Health Organization has warned that deaths due to Covid-19 in 2021 could surpass the levels reached last year: many countries are today struggling with high transmission rates, over-stretched intensive care units, and desperate shortages of medical oxygen.
Nurses have played an instrumental role in delivering the vaccination programme in countries around the world and will continue to do so as the effort expands. The success of the vaccination effort is heavily dependent on the skill and capacity of the nursing workforce.
However, as wealthy countries move towards coverage rates of 70 per cent and above, coverage across sub-Saharan Africa remains less than 1 per cent and the gap between rich and poor countries is growing by the day. Closing the gap is an ethical imperative; it is also a necessity if the virus is to be contained and to reduce the likelihood of further new variants emerging.
Dr Crystal Oldman CBE, the QNI’s chief executive and a signatory to the letter commented:
The key message of this campaign is that none of us is safe until everyone is safe. That’s why Queen’s Nurses from across the UK are calling on the leaders of the G7 countries meeting in the UK this week to support the efforts of COVAX and invest now in the global vaccination programme.
COVAX plans to deliver two billion doses this year to more than 120 countries, but it is increasingly evident that the pace and scale of international cooperation must be stepped up. The costs of vaccinating the world will be dwarfed by the economic costs if global leaders fail to act and the human costs are inconceivable.
Clare Cable, Chief Executive and Nurse Director at the Queen’s Nursing Institute Scotland (QNIS), added:
Nurses have been working throughout the pandemic to contain the virus and provide ongoing care to people in the community in multiple ways. Here in Scotland, they are acutely aware of the needs of citizens globally to have access to vital vaccines.
We are urging G7 leaders to support the aspiration of building a fairer, healthier world by backing the work of the COVAX programme.