Arm in Arm: UEA academics launch global vaccine campaign

Published by  Communications

On 15th Feb 2021

Photos of Professor Paul Hunter and Dr Kirstin Smith

Academics from the University of East Anglia (UEA) have launched a campaign encouraging those receiving a COVID-19 vaccine to support the global response to the pandemic by donating to the World Health Organization's (WHO) COVID-19 fund.  

The campaign named ‘Arm in Arm’ has been led by UEA lecturer Dr Kirstin Smith and her colleagues, and asks people to make a small donation to the WHO COVID-19 Response fund when receiving their vaccine.  

This comes as the COVID-19 vaccine rollout in England has enters its next phase with 15 million people in the UK having their first dose from the top four priority groups.  

The WHO fund helps countries with fewer resources to track and understand the spread of the virus, providing supplies to frontline workers and care to the most vulnerable people.  

Dr Smith, from UEA’s School of Literature, Drama and Creative Writing, said: “Millions of people in the UK have experienced the moment of joy when they’ve been offered a vaccine. My dad got his this week and the whole family are relieved and grateful as my brother had the virus in the first wave and was quite ill. So many people in the UK are grieving friends and relatives, or dealing with the long-term impacts of coronavirus.  

“We are incredibly lucky to have the NHS in this country and the vaccine is of course free to all who want it. Everyone is doing their bit by getting vaccinated, but could we make a wider contribution? For those who can, it’s an ideal moment to support people living with under-resourced health systems across the world.” 

Prof Paul Hunter, COVID-19 expert from UEA’s Medical School, said: “We’ve got to work together as an international community. The UK has made a great contribution to vaccine development and identifying new variants. Now we need to get vaccine out to all vulnerable people wherever they live in the world, to reduce deaths and to reduce the risk of new variants, which will ultimately pose a risk to us all.” 

Dr Smith added: “I’ve been so proud of the UEA epidemiologists and other experts who have played such a significant role in researching the virus. Being a lecturer in drama I feel like this is something I can do to raise awareness of the WHO work to people in the UK. 

“We know not everyone will be able to donate as the pandemic has been financially tough for many, but for those who can a donation will make a real difference.”  

Dr Smith has been joined by UEA colleagues Dr Naomi Wood, Prof Rebecca Stott and illustrator Naomi Wilkinson to launch a website and social media campaign. For more information you can visit: www.arminarm.net or follow @arminarm_uk on Twitter. For more information about the WHO COVID-19 Response Fund or to donate, visit: https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/donate  

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