May 4, 2021: -The executive director of UNICEF, Henrietta Fore, has told CNBC that it is “very worried” about the current Covid-19 crisis in India and urged the world to send urgent help to the country.
In World Immunization Week, Fore said it was a “race to save lives” through vaccinations, particularly in some of the world’s poorest countries with “very fragile” health systems.
India is in the midst of a deadly second wave of the virus. On Saturday, daily coronavirus cases in the country passed 400,000 for the first time; total points in India have now topped 19 million, and above 215,000 people have died from Covid in the country.
“It is worrying for several reasons. One, is it a precursor to what might happen in other countries, particularly countries in Africa, with much weaker healthcare systems?” Fore said in the previous week.
“It’s worrying because their health care system has been overwhelmed. It is the need for oxygen and therapeutics that we just have not seen in this pandemic in another country at this scale.”
Fore said both UNICEF and the COVAX global vaccine program had sent help to the country, and aid from other nations made a big difference. “But it’s not enough because India is part of our supply chain. So, it is both where we source many of the vaccines, and it’s also where we need to give help as a world to India now,” she added.
UNICEF is the United Nations agency responsible for providing aid to children across the world.
One consequence of the Covid-19 pandemic is that the world has stopped paying attention to other routine immunizations, Fore warned. Around 60 periodic immunization campaigns have been blocked worldwide as countries focus on tackling the pandemic.
Fore said that around half of the world’s vaccinations come about due to UNICEF’s routine immunizations of children.
“Polio, measles, yellow fever, etc., all of these are vaccines that children need, but they’re also vaccines that adults need. So we are asking for families to come into primary health clinics in their communities, bring their children in, get vaccinated for these childhood diseases, also get a Covid vaccine, and we can save 50 million lives,” she said.