Irish businesses are backing charity UNICEF's drive to supply vaccines to the developing world.
Companies such as Avalon, Aerogen, ESB, ICON, KPMG Ireland, Mason Hayes & Curran and Zurich Ireland have joined the new Corporate Vaccine Alliance, which aims to deliver 2 billion vaccines in 92 countries by the end of 2021.
Download, listen and subscribe on the Newstalk App.
You can also listen to Newstalk live on newstalk.com or on Alexa, by adding the Newstalk skill and asking: 'Alexa, play Newstalk'.
Peter Power, UNICEF Ireland’s Executive Director, told Newstalk the charity is in a “unique position” to help because it already has the organisational infrastructure in place.
“We currently vaccinate 2 billion children throughout the year and this year we are doubling that capacity to 4 billion, which will allow us to deliver 2 billion COVID-19 vaccines.
“Manufacturing capacity right around the world has ramped up... We bring these vaccines from the factory through refrigerated transport to the most remote areas that you can imagine and get them into people’s arms. That’s what we bring to the table.”
Avalon’s CEO Dómhnal Slattery said UNICEF’s vaccination target of 2 billion is “audacious” and backing their rollout was “the right thing to do”.
The company has donated 50 vaccines for every member of its staff who are vaccinated. It has also released an open letter, urging other Irish companies to back the campaign as well.
“This is really important, we’ve got to have the entire world vaccinated as quickly as we can,” Dómhnal Slattery told Newstalk.
Peter Power says the infrastructure is there to vaccinate the world but cost remains an issue.
“It’s a very expensive undertaking to bring these vaccines from the factory through air transport… So that capacity and infrastructure is there. What we need now obviously is the funding. That’s why we’re asking Irish companies to consider, as part of their own corporate social responsibility objectives, to see if they would consider playing their part in reopening the global economy.
“Ireland has obviously a very open economy, dependent on global trading, one of the most open in the world. So we have a vested interest in ensuring that the global economy opens.
“So as Dómhnal was saying, it’s not just the right thing to do but it’s also good for business. And when those two things combine and companies using their innovation, their finance, their drive, when they work with organisations like UNICEF, which have a global footprint, we can achieve amazing things.”
Companies looking to get involved can sign up on UNICEF’s website.
Main image: A COVID-19 vaccine is prepared. Picture by: Bernd Weißbrod/PA