Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints donates $20M to global COVID-19 vaccination effort

Malawi’s former President Joyce Banda got her COVID-19 vaccine at a COVID-19 field hospital in Zomba, Malawi. Photo: UNICEF/Chikondi

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah, April 30, 2021 (Gephardt Daily) — The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced Friday that it has supported the global vaccination effort with a $20 million grant to UNICEF for its role in the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator and the vaccines arm of the ACT Accelerator, called the COVAX Facility.

The humanitarian arm of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is helping to support COVAX, a global effort among the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations; Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance; UNICEF; the Pan American Health Organization; and the World Health Organization (WHO).

The initiative provides an equitable rollout of COVID-19 vaccines and treatments to people from vulnerable communities, says a prepared statement released by the LDS Church.

“It is unprecedented in the history of the world where partners have come together to make this happen and to bring a vaccine which is going to be lifesaving to countries all over the world,” said Dr. Yasmin Ali Haque, UNICEF’s representative in India, the statement says.

India is among the many countries still experiencing intense transmission of the coronavirus, according to WHO.

This week marks World Immunization Week, which runs from April 24 to April 30, 2021. It is celebrated every April and promotes the use of vaccines to protect people of all ages against disease.

The first international delivery of 600,000 vaccines reached Ghana in February. Since April 23, 2021, the one-year anniversary of the launch of the ACT Accelerator, over 49 million vaccine doses have been shipped around the world. The vaccines, supplied by the COVAX Facility and manufactured by the Serum Institute of India, were shipped to the Kotoka International Airport in Accra, Ghana’s capital.

Health workers and front-line workers receive their second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at the Palungtar Community Health Centre in Gorkha District in north-central Nepal on April 21, 2021. Photo: UNICEF/Prasad Ngakhusi

“On behalf of UNICEF, I also want to thank the donors that have contributed to this facility,” said Anne-Claire Dufay, UNICEF’s representative in Ghana. “These vaccines are going to have a positive impact in the lives of Ghanaians, and people will gradually go back to a more normal situation. And children will also benefit.”

Hamida Lasseko, UNICEF representative in South Sudan, is quoted as saying her area had received a first shipment of the vaccines.

“This is targeting mostly the frontline health workers and also the people who are living with underlying conditions. This is just the beginning. It is the first consignment.”

It feels like a new beginning, said Ayub Asobasi, UNICEF South Sudan logistics officer in the prepared statement.

“I am feeling that this is a new chapter. Still, we do not have the cure for COVID, but this is … very good progress. And it’s good for the people of South Sudan.”

Isaac Lemi Beshir, a 27-year-old health worker, proudly presents his vaccination card after receiving the COVID-19 jab. Issac works at Juba Teaching Hospital, where the launch of the COVID-19 vaccination drive took place. Minister of Health Elizabeth Achuei kicked off the drive by being the first person to receive the vaccine in South Sudan, on March 25, 2021. Photo: UNICEF/Cho Mayak

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