WATCH | SA activist joins international stars to fight for global access to Covid-19 vaccines

'If the vaccine isn’t everywhere, this pandemic isn’t going anywhere'

31 March 2021 - 12:44
Esihle Makitshi has joined the battle to ensure all countries can access Covid-19 vaccines.
Esihle Makitshi has joined the battle to ensure all countries can access Covid-19 vaccines.
Image: Supplied/Esihle Makitshi

SA activist Esihle Makitshi has joined Spanish actress Penelope Cruz, British actor David Oyelowo and other international stars to fight for  global access to Covid-19 vaccines.

The activist from East London is among 56 activists from 24  countries who were chosen to become Youth Ambassadors for ONE, an anti-poverty organisation co-founded by U2 frontman Bono.

The ONE campaign is aimed at raising awareness about the critical importance of getting Covid-19 vaccines to all countries as quickly as possible.

To do this, the campaign launched an animated series, Pandemica, created to raise awareness about severely limited access to the vaccines in the world’s poorest countries.

The series features characters voiced by Cruz, Oyelowo, Virginie Efira, Deborah François, Patrick Adams, Samuel Arnold, Bono, Connie Britton, Meg Donnelly, Danai Gurira, Nick Kroll, Laura Marano, Kumail Nanjiani, Phoebe Robinson, Michael Sheen, Wanda Sykes and Calum Worthy.

“As Pandemica illustrates, this virus doesn’t respect borders, so I am campaigning to make sure vaccines reach everyone wherever they are in the world — because if the vaccine isn’t everywhere, this pandemic isn’t going anywhere,” said Makitshi.

The ONE said Pandemica may not be a real place, but for billions of people it is a reality.

“Less than 1% of doses administered globally have gone to people in low-income countries while a handful of wealthy countries have enough vaccines to inoculate their entire populations and still have one billion doses,” it said.

Director at the ONE campaign Emily Wigens said the youth ambassadors’ call could not be more relevant because while some countries are advancing their vaccinations campaigns, one-third of the world has yet to see a single dose.

“I’m excited to have on our side this group of impressive and committed individuals campaigning for a fairer world where everyone can access the same opportunities, be it a vaccine, quality education, health care or a decent job,” said Wigens.

Earlier this year, President Cyril Ramaphosa asked “rich countries” not to hoard Covid-19 vaccines.

Speaking at a virtual meeting of the World Economic Forum, Ramaphosa said poor countries were desperately in need of vaccines as much as other nations which had  already started vaccinating their citizens.  

“We need those who have hoarded the vaccines to release the vaccines so other countries can have them,” said Ramaphosa.

“The rich countries of the world acquired large quantities of vaccines. Some even acquired up to four times what their population needs to the exclusion of other countries.”

He said African countries wanted access to vaccines as quickly as other nations.

“We are all not safe if some countries are vaccinating their people and some countries are not vaccinating. We all must act together in combating the coronavirus.”