Ireland has donated more than 1,250,000 Covid-19 vaccines to some of the world’s poorest countries, Unicef has announced.
Companies and individuals in Ireland raised more than €2.5m weeks after the official launch of the Unicef Get a Vaccine, Give a Vaccine campaign.
The campaign invites people in Ireland getting vaccinated to give a vaccine to someone in need, meaning one million doses will now be delivered to healthcare workers and vulnerable people in countries that have limited access to vaccines.
Speaking on RTÉ Radio One's, Peter Power, executive director of Unicef Ireland, said the response from people across Ireland has been inspiring.
"I'm very pleased to say that through the generosity of the Irish people, that number has just gone up in the last number of days from 1m to about 1.25m," he said.
"When people get their vaccine in their arm, the feedback we're getting certainly is they feel a real sense of euphoria he said.
"They feel protected, obviously, and then they feel a real sense of well, not everybody has it, and they want to give something back."
Mr Power added: "There is a huge appetite amongst Irish people to share vaccines with the countries around the world which just don't have any access."
The donation of more than 1m vaccines from Ireland has helped Unicef’s aim to support the delivery of 2bn Covid vaccines this year.
Mr Power said it was “astonishing” that some countries have vaccination rates of less than 5%, while wealthy countries have vaccinated the vast majority of their populations.
"People have been vaccinated, double vaccinated now they're talking about triple vaccination, but in Africa, the average rate is 2% in some countries it's less than 1% so we as a country now, as a people, we have to ask ourselves a very simple question, is it right that we hoard vaccines?
"What Unicef is saying very clearly is that we can do both. We can roll out our programme, but we can also share approximately 20% of our vaccines to these countries."
As Ireland progresses through its vaccination rollout aiming to have 90% of the adult population vaccinated by September, and 75% of the population aged 16 now vaccinated, Covid-19 remains a global threat to poorer countries around the world.
“This is the most critical mission in the world right now, and we simply could not do this without the incredible generosity of people and companies in Ireland.
“Donations to the campaign help ensure that vaccines get to the most remote and isolated places in the world.
“Every donation helps us store vaccines safely using secure cold chain equipment.
“They mean more health workers are vaccinated and protected against Covid-19 and that vulnerable families and children receive the life-saving care they need to survive,” Mr Power said.
Ireland’s support in the campaign is aiding Unicef lead the largest-ever vaccine procurement and supply operation as part of the global Covax Facility.
Covax has already delivered over 175m doses to 138 countries, since March this year.
However, Unicef says more funding is needed in order to achieve its historic mission.
- If you wish to donate to Unicef'S Get a Vaccine, Give a Vaccine campaign, you can do so via the Unicef Ireland website