On Friday, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced it has made a $20 million donation to UNICEF’s global effort to fight Covid-19 through mass vaccination.
Henrietta Fore, the executive director of UNICEF, called the gift from Latter-day Saint Charities “the single biggest donation from a private sector partner that we’ve received to date,” noting that she hoped it would inspire other businesses, organizations and individuals to also donate to the cause.
UNICEF’s goal is to procure 2 billion doses of Covid-19 vaccines, according to the Church. This money will help with that effort, and also assist in training health care workers and educating people in 196 countries about the need for, and safety of, the vaccines.
According to the Church’s announcement, Latter-day Saint Charities, the Church’s humanitarian arm, has been working with UNICEF USA since 2013, particularly around the areas of immunization, emergency response, and the needs of refugees.
The Church’s generosity comes at a critical time, as many around the world begin to worry about a potential inequity in vaccine availability in poorer countries. Citizens of many developed countries can expect to be vaccinated within the next six months, in most cases, especially if their governments have engaged in what the Brookings Institution recently called “vaccine nationalism” — “paying for doses in short supply in quantities that more than cover their own populations.”
Citizens of poorer countries, on the other hand, face the prospect of waiting until 2022 or even beyond. “The Economist” has estimated that more than 85 of the world’s poorest countries may not have widespread vaccinations until 2023, or even later. Such delays could be devastating to the already-fragile economic and political situations of those nations, to say nothing about the potential loss of human life.
The LDS Church’s donation to UNICEF “aims to accelerate the end of the pandemic and minimize disruption to the lives of children by protecting health and social care workers around the world, including educators and primary caregivers,” it said in a statement.