Global health groups urge countries to donate COVID vaccines to humanitarian stockpiles, protecting stateless people in asylum camps

Credit: UN
Credit: UN

Public health groups are lobbying countries to commit a portion of their Covid-19 vaccine supplies to a “humanitarian buffer” that would be used to inoculate people living in rebel-held territories, those in asylum-seeker camps and others unlikely to receive vaccinations from their governments.

The emergency stockpile is intended to act as a safety net to ensure the global effort to end the Covid-19 pandemic is not sabotaged by governments using vaccines as bargaining chip with restive populations, or simply denying it to some marginalised groups.

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“In Syria there are a lot of internally displaced people who might end up in areas not controlled by the government, or they might be considered to be anti-government or pro-revolution,” said Alain Alsalhani, a vaccine pharmacist who works with Médecins Sans Frontières.

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“There are also ethnic minorities or others who might be neglected, so typically in India’s Chhattisgarh state you have entire villages considered by the government to be pro-Maoist, and they don’t have access to any healthcare at all.”

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The French government is understood to be taking the lead on rallying contributions to the buffer, with President Emmanuel Macron saying in a speech on [November 20] he hoped France and its European partners would donate a part of their doses to healthcare workers and others “who need it most, in the most fragile countries.”

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