Photo: Nanai Damkliang/Thai Red Cross

Kuala Lumpur/Jakarta/Geneva, 13 July 2021: A deadly wave of COVID-19 fuelled by the Delta variant is crashing into South East Asia as the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies warns of a widening global vaccine divide.

Countries across South East Asia from Indonesia to Thailand, Malaysia and Myanmar are facing hospitals full and overwhelmed while many race to roll out vaccines.

Around 10,000 COVID-19 infections are being recorded in Thailand a day, more than four times a month ago, while deaths have also reached record highs. Infections in Viet Nam have surged past 2,000 a day, close to 10 times more than in early June.

Richer countries such as the United Kingdom have fully vaccinated more than half their populations. Viet Nam has fully vaccinated less than 1 per cent, Thailand around 5 per cent and Indonesia 5.5 per cent, according to Oxford University’s COVID-19 Our World in Data.

Alexander Matheou Asia Pacific Director, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) said:

“Millions of people in Asia are living on the cruel and sharp edge of a global vaccine divide between richer countries that have a steady supply and most nations in Asia that are struggling to access sufficient doses to keep their populations safe. 

“There is mounting evidence that COVID-19 vaccinations are already saving tens of thousands of lives around the world.” 

Across Asia, thousands of Red Cross and Red Crescent volunteers are racing to vaccinate people alongside health authorities, yet vaccinations are struggling to keep pace with the variants and the spread of the virus.

“It is encouraging that a number of richer countries have made generous pledges and donations of vaccines to countries in Asia in recent weeks,” said Mr Matheou.

“We need to speed up the delivery of these lifesaving doses so that we can get them in to people’s arms, giving us a genuine shot at containing this pandemic once and for all.” 

The IFRC is seeking vital funding for its global emergency COVID-19 appeal, with around 60 per cent of the appeal covered so far. The funds are crucial to support the lifesaving actions of the IFRC and member Red Cross and Red Crescent National Societies around the world. 

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