Omicron reveals need to close global vaccine gap
By Sara Hildebrand
The Love My Neighbour movement, a collaboration of 35 faith communities and organizations, strongly agrees with the recent Dec. 13 article in The Hill Times, “‘Inevitable’ rise of Omicron shows ‘failed approach’ to ending pandemic, say experts.”
Billions of global neighbours in low- and middle-income countries have yet to receive access to a single COVID-19 vaccine dose. It’s estimated that 81.5 per cent of Canadians have received at least one dose, while 7.1 per cent of people in low-income countries have received the same. These statistics indicate a social inequity this diverse group cannot live with.
With Canada’s privileged position comes an increased responsibility to ensure that everyone has access to their right to a healthy, safe life. The new variant, Omicron, reveals the need to close the global vaccine gap to keep everyone safe, in Canada and globally.
Millennium Kids and diverse faith groups from Jewish, Muslim, Zoroastrian and Christian traditions have come together in advocacy and fundraising. We want to embody the compassion youth and Canadians of faith share for our global neighbours and the desire to ensure everyone can access life-saving vaccines.
Across the country, Canadians are holding fundraisers, writing songs, selling samosas and chai tea, decorating pumpkins and sidewalks, buzz cutting hair, swimming across Lac St-Pierre, requesting vaccine donations in lieu of wedding and birthday gifts, and collaborating with their Scouts’ group, Girl Guides’ Unit, school, youth group, neighbourhood or faith community, in support of global vaccination efforts.
Love My Neighbour has engaged in direct advocacy around vaccine access and raised over $550,000 to help UNICEF fully vaccinate 22,050 people in low-income countries against COVID-19.
Our hopes are high for 2022
Based on supplies, we could have comprehensive vaccine coverage of the world next year, but to do so we need a clear and financed plan that prioritizes the most vulnerable around the world. Canada is uniquely positioned to play a leading role, in the multilateral spaces in which we sit, to help create and implement a plan that includes patents and manufacturing, dose sharing, and health systems support.
We invite every Canadian to #giftavax to a global neighbour @: lovemyneighbourproject.org
[Sara Hildebrand is founder and Project Coordinator of Love My Neighbour Project and the founder and director of Millennium Kids, a youth movement creating opportunities for youth to propel Canada forward to meet the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030. She is passionate about encouraging youth to use their voice for justice and the common good in the public sphere. Sara received her JD from the University of Toronto Law School and was called to the Ontario bar in 2000].