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UNICEF ambassadors, others urge G7 leaders to share COVID-19 vaccine doses

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(Photo by Alain JOCARD / AFP)

FEC approves N895.5b supplementary budget for military, pandemic
Ahead of the G7 Leaders Summit, the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) Goodwill Ambassadors have urged the G7 leaders to urgently share 20 per cent of COVID-19 vaccine doses to poorer countries to reduce further spread and the threat of mutant strains.

They made the demand in an open letter sent to G7 Leaders Summit slated for between June 11 and June 13, 2021 in Cornwall, United Kingdom.

The Goodwill Ambassadors include Ramla Ali, Fernando Alonso, David Beckham, Orlando Bloom, José Manuel Calderón, Sofia Carson, Gemma Chan, Priyanka Chopra Jonas, Olivia Colman, Billie Eilish, Pau Gasol, Whoopi Goldberg, David Harewood, Sir Chris Hoy and Angelique Kidjo.

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Others are Téa Leoni, Lucy Liu, Juan Manuel López Iturriaga, Ewan McGregor, Alyssa Milano, Andy Murray, Liam Neeson, Liam Payne, Katy Perry, Sergio Ramos, Claudia Schiffer and Teresa Viejo.

They joined 28 high-profile UNICEF ambassadors and supporters to ask G7 world leaders to ensure fair and equitable vaccine supply to low-and middle-income countries.

“The world has spent one year and a half battling the COVID-19 pandemic, but the virus is still spreading in most countries and producing new variants with the potential to put us all back where we started. This means more school closures, more healthcare disruptions, and greater economic fallout – threating the futures of families and children everywhere,” the letter reads.

They alerted that COVAX, the global initiative supporting poorer countries in accessing vaccines, was already facing a shortfall of 190 million doses and proposed that to help cover the shortfall, G7 countries should donate 20 per cent of their vaccines between June and August, amounting to over 150 million doses, as a temporary stopgap measure to compensate for the shortfall.

MEANWHILE, the Federal Executive Council (FEC) at its meeting in Abuja, yesterday, approved a draft 2021 supplementary budget of N896 billion to facilitate procurement of military equipment and COVID-19 vaccines.

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Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, disclosed this while addressing journalists shortly after the FEC’s meeting presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari.

She explained that the supplementary appropriation contained an aggregate sum N770.60 billion to further enhance the capacity of the defence and the security agencies to help tackle insecurity challenges in the country.

She said N83.56 billion was set aside for COVID-19 vaccination programme, covering 30 million vaccines from Johnson and Johnson and logistics costs for the deployment of the vaccines.

Ahmed said the budget provided N40 billion for sundry allowances in the health, education sectors and other wages, as well as N1.69 billion for the Nigeria Comprehensive AIDS Programme.

The minister also explained that government would draw from N39.58 billion to finance the supplementary budget and N135 billion from special levy accounts for the same purpose.

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