JDF recipient Izzie Jani-Friend recently spoke at the People’s Vaccine rally as part of the Peoples Vaccine Alliance, telling us: “Using my voice to speak out about issues that matter to me is the main reason I wanted to become a journalist”. Here, she tells us about the experience:
I am a freelance journalist and campaigner specialising in health and culture. And I am also a patient leader for Just Treatment, a campaigning organisation which seeks to put patients and the NHS before profit and politics.
After a year of shielding due to my health condition, I could not be more relieved to have received one of the more than 21 million COVID vaccine doses that have been given in the UK.
I have cystic fibrosis (CF); a life-threatening, chronic condition that causes the passageways in my lungs and digestive system to become blocked with thick, sticky secretions, over time leading to fatal lung damage.
This places me into the clinically extremely vulnerable (CEV), high-risk category, as the virus poses a very serious risk to my already damaged lungs.
Four weeks ago, I was lucky enough to get my first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, but it was bittersweet. I felt so excited to be having it, but it angers me that I got access to the vaccine before a lot of others, including my family in India.
Millions of others across the world cannot yet experience the sense of relief I can. This is because 75% of global COVID vaccinations have taken place in just 10 countries, while 130 countries have yet to receive one single dose.
Everyone should be able to access a vaccine, no matter where they live.
That is why on Wednesday 10th March, I spoke at the People’s Vaccine rally as part of the Peoples Vaccine Alliance.
Campaigning organisations part of the people’s vaccine coalition (made up of health and humanitarian organisations, past and present world leaders, health experts, faith leaders and economists), including Just Treatment, Global Justice Now and Oxfam organised this Global Rally. With speakers including, Bernie Sanders, Caroline Lucas, Dr Thabo Makgoba, Winnie Byanyima and myself.
We want to end this pandemic by ensuring that everyone, everywhere has fair access to COVID-19 vaccines.
We were calling for governments and pharmaceutical corporations to prevent monopolies on vaccines, ensure the vaccine is sold at an affordable price and implement fair allocation of the vaccine and back the TRIPS waiver.
Pharmaceutical monopolies are restricting supply and rich governments have hoarded doses, leaving poorer countries waiting up to 2023 for widespread access to vaccinations. Without widespread global vaccination, further mutations and strains of COVID threaten to undermine the UK’s response.
Using my voice to speak out about issues that matter to me is the main reason I wanted to become a journalist. I want to continue to seek the truth and ensure the right people are held to account. My passion drives me to put my all into my work and knowing that it has the chance to make a positive impact is incredibly motivating.