As developed nations race to vaccinate their populations and re-open their economies, there have been growing calls across the world for vaccine equity.
BITCI member companies have been supporting UNICEF’s ‘Get a Vaccine, Give a Vaccine’ campaign and are now joining UNICEF’s vaccine alliance to drive the biggest vaccination campaign the world has even seen and so put an end to the COVID-19 pandemic.
With the support of its partners – including the Irish Business world – UNICEF is powering the largest and fastest global vaccine operation in human history. UNICEF has set the target of procuring and delivering 2 billion doses of the vaccine to developing countries by the end of 2021, an effort unrivalled in its ambition for scale and speed.
Since UNICEF Ireland first launched their ‘Get a Vaccine Give a Vaccine’ campaign in March 2021, they have received tremendous support from the Irish general public – and also from Irish businesses. Over 40 organisations from across Ireland’s public and private sectors have joined that chorus of support. This has included BITCI member companies such An Post, Coillte, KPMG Ireland, Aldi, ESB and Ibec – all of whom are driving Ireland’s campaign for global vaccine equity. At the time of writing, Ireland’s contributions through the ‘Get a Vaccine, Give a Vaccine’ Campaign has supported the delivery of over 1.5 million COVID-19 vaccines for vulnerable people and frontline healthcare workers in low- and middle-income countries.
Businesses are increasingly recognising the necessity for a global vaccination drive, and they realise how vaccine equity isn’t just good for tackling global inequality – it’s also good for business. As Peter Power, Executive Director of UNICEF Ireland has outlined: “Equity is key to ending the pandemic and rebuilding our global economy. Every country plays a role and the race to end COVID-19 is on, but there are no winners or losers – we either all win or we all lose – the success and speed of developed countries’ economic recoveries from COVID-19 is dependent on the recovery of developing nations”.
The International Chamber of Commerce has calculated that successfully combating COVID-19 could contribute $9 trillion (€7.7 trillion) in global income by 2025, an incredible return on investment of around €166 for every euro spent. In fact, it is estimated that the $38 billion (€32.3 billion) needed to fully fund the initiative would be repaid within 36 hours once global mobility and trade alone are restored.
In September 2021, UNICEF Ireland are launching the Corporate Vaccine Alliance as a way for future-facing Irish businesses to further facilitate the widespread and equitable delivery of the COVID-19 vaccine. Corporates that join this Alliance will be able to engage in meaningful cross-industry dialogue around COVID and global trade. Several BITCI member companies have already committed to joining the Corporate Vaccine Alliance in recognition of the importance of access to vaccines; not just in terms of equity, but also recognising that no economy will fully recover until all economies across the world recover.
This sense that ‘no one is safe unless everyone is safe’ during the pandemic has been echoed by Imelda Hurley, CEO of Coillte, who has outlined why they have joined the UNICEF campaigns: “Within Coillte, we wanted to ensure colleagues thought seriously about the benefits of being vaccinated as soon as possible. We also wanted to ensure we supported people globally who don’t have easy or indeed any access to a Covid-19 vaccine”. And supporting the UNICEF’s drive for global vaccine equity has given Coillte employees an added sense of purpose as Imelda Hurley has explained: “This campaign has given Coillte colleagues a sense of pride that we as an organisation are supporting the global fight against Covid-19. We know a large number of colleagues have also made personal donations to this initiative and that more and more colleagues are doing so every day”.
Seamus Hand, Managing Partner at KPMG Ireland, has explained why their organisation has thrown their support between UNICEF’s urgent campaigns: “At KPMG, we’re committed to playing our part in creating equitable societies for all and that’s why the ‘Get a Vaccine, Give a Vaccine’ campaign resonated with our people. Staff donated through payroll giving and the firm matched those donations, which helped to fund vaccinations for over 11,000 healthcare workers in developing countries. We’re proud to play our part in this collaboration with UNICEF and we urge others to support the Corporate Vaccine Alliance”.
Ireland has a long and proud tradition of global philanthropy, and the Corporate Vaccine Alliance is an opportunity for Irish corporate to maintain and build on that enviable track record. As Owen Buckley, Lead coordinator of the UNICEF Corporate Vaccine Alliance, says: “Our history demonstrates Ireland’s weight when we support developing nations. And not only does this make sense on an altruistic level – it makes economic sense”. Given that we stand at a pivotal moment in the race between vaccines and variants, UNICEF is now calling for Ireland – and Irish businesses – to demonstrate leadership by joining the Corporate Vaccine Alliance.
If your business is interested in learning how you can participate in the UNICEF Corporate Vaccine Alliance, you can reach out and contact Owen Buckley, Lead coordinator of the UNICEF Corporate Vaccine Alliance, at firstname.lastname@example.org