The UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres has unequivocally condemned the uneven and unfair distribution of the COVID-19 vaccines, noting that only 10 countries have successfully administered 75% of all vaccinations and has demanded a global effort to get everyone vaccinated as soon as possible.
He made this disclosure at the virtual meeting with the Foreign ministers for the first-ever UN Security Council session on vaccinations.
He further stated that the world has the “moral duty” to act together against the pandemic that has killed more than 2.4 million people in the whole world.
According to Guterres:
- “130 countries have not received a single dose of vaccine and vaccine equity is the biggest moral test before the global community.
- “The world urgently needs a global vaccination plan to bring together all those with the required power, scientific expertise and production and financial capacities.
- If the virus is allowed to spread like wildfire in the Global South, it will mutate again and again. New variants could become more transmissible, more deadly and, potentially, threaten the effectiveness of current vaccines and diagnostics.
- “This can prolong the pandemic significantly, enabling the virus to come back to plague the Global North.”
He called on the world’s economic powers in the Group of 20 (G-20) to create an emergency task force to plan its implementation and financing and to be vested with the capacity to mobilize the pharmaceutical companies and key industry and logistics actors.
What they are saying
The UK Foreign Secretary, Dominic Raab, on his part urged the council to adopt a resolution calling for ceasefires in conflict zones to allow the delivery of COVID-19 vaccines.
According to Raab:
- “More than 160 million people are at risk of being excluded from coronavirus vaccinations because they live in countries engulfed in conflict and instability, including Yemen, Syria, South Sudan, Somalia, and Ethiopia.
- “Global vaccination coverage is essential to beating coronavirus.
- “That is why the UK is calling for a vaccination ceasefire to allow COVID-19 vaccines to reach people living in conflict zones and for a greater global team effort to deliver equitable access.”
According to Britain’s UN ambassador, Barbara Woodward:
- “Humanitarian organizations and UN agencies need the full backing of the council to be able to carry out the job we are asking them to do.
- “Ceasefires have been used to carry out vaccinations, pointing to a two-day pause in fighting in Afghanistan in 2001 that enabled 35,000 health workers and volunteers to vaccinate 5.7 million children under the age of five against polio.”
According to U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken:
- “President Joe Biden’s administration would take a new leadership role after reversing Donald Trump’s decision to pull out of the World Health Organization.
- “U.S. would pay its more than $200 million in obligations to the UN body by the end of the month and make a “significant” contribution to COVAX.”
According to Chinese State Councillor and Foreign Minister, Wang Yi:
- “We must ensure that no country in need of the vaccines is left behind and no individuals waiting for vaccines are neglected.
- “ Nothing matters more than human lives and it is important to ensure access to humanitarian assistance, especially for women, children, and other disadvantaged groups”’.
Mexico’s Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard, in clear terms, condemned the injustice of what he called a “deepening gap” as wealthy countries “monopolize the vaccines.”
What you should know
- Globally, coronavirus has infected more than 109 million people and killed at least 2.4 million of them.
- It is sad to note that many countries have not yet started vaccination programs and even rich nations are facing shortages of vaccine doses as manufacturers struggle to ramp up production.
- In its effort to buy and deliver coronavirus vaccines for the world’s poorest people, WHO floated the COVAX program which has been quite ineffective.
- Many developing countries that would not wait anymore for COVAX, have rushed in recent weeks to sign their own private deals to buy their vaccines.