The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is doing its part to inoculate the world against COVID-19.
The Utah-based church announced on Friday that it has donated $20 million to fund a program targeting the distribution of coronavirus vaccines to impoverished nations.
The donation is going to UNICEF as part of the organization’s partnership with the UN-backed COVAX initiative, which this week sent its first deliveries to the western African nations of Ivory Coast and Ghana, reported The Associated Press.
“This grant for our important role in COVAX, from Latter-day Saint Charities, is the single biggest donation from a private-sector partner that we’ve received to date,” noted UNICEF executive director Henrietta Fore, according to the Deseret News. “We hope that their generosity inspires other organizations, businesses and individuals to help ensure equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines.”
Officials have praised the initiative as the first vaccines are delivered to poor countries during the continuing pandemic, but it has been hindered by limited global supplies.
Ultimately, the goal is to deliver 2 billion shots by the end of 2021 to the world’s most vulnerable people.
Ghana received 600,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine on Wednesday and Ivory Coast got 504,000 on Friday, according to The AP.
“As more adults in vulnerable communities are vaccinated, critical health, nutritional and educational services for children in need will be able to resume,” explained Bishop Gérald Caussé, the presiding bishop of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. “We hold hope in our hearts, not only on overcoming the pandemic, but of seeing a brighter future for all children and their families.”Dozens of African migrants dead after boat capsizes in Mediterranean Sea »
As of Friday, more than 2.5 million people on Earth have succumbed to COVID-19, according to health tracker Johns Hopkins University.
Africa’s hardest-hit nation has been South Africa, which has reported nearly 50,000 coronavirus deaths — less than 10% of America’s fatality total of 509,000.
Last decade, Ebola breakouts in western Africa killed more than 11,000 citizens, according to advocacy organization World Vision International.