General Assembly holds debate to increase momentum for universal COVID-19 vaccination |
General Assembly holds debate to increase momentum for universal COVID-19 vaccination |

General Assembly holds debate to increase momentum for universal COVID-19 vaccination |

During a high-level debate on universal vaccination, Abdulla Shahid highlighted the persistent inequality in access to these life-saving medicines and the inability of the international community to protect everyone from the disease.

Immoral and impractical

“Let me be clear: vaccine inequality is immoral and it is impractical,” he said, speaking from the UN’s iconic General Assembly hall in New York.

As of Friday, there were more than 428.5 million cases of COVID-19 globally and 5.9 million deaths, according to World Health Organization (WHO).

Shahid said that although more than 10 billion vaccines have been administered around the world so far – enough to inoculate all humans on the planet – about 83 percent of the population of the African Union (AU) has not yet received a single dose. .

“It’s not okay that 27 countries have vaccinated less than 10 percent of their population, while others roll out boosters or completely lift restrictions.” he said.

Strength in solidarity

Mr. Shahid called for the day-long debate to create momentum towards ensuring that everyone can receive vaccines, by bringing together world leaders, senior UN officials, civil society and non-profit representatives, private sector stakeholders, first aiders in front line and even celebrities.

“If the pandemic has shown us anything, it is the importance of collective action – that our strength lies in solidarity,” he said.

In a video message to the meeting, the UN writes Secretary-General António Guterres called vaccine inequality “a moral indictment of our time”as it costs lives, damages economies and allows the virus to circulate and mutate.

Prioritize COVAX initiatives

For the UN chief, the encouraging momentum means that countries are increasing vaccine dose sharing as well as donations to COVAX solidarity mechanism.

“This means that manufacturers prioritize and fulfill vaccine contracts with COVAX, ensure full transparency on monthly production and create the conditions for local or regional production of tests, vaccines and treatments,” he added.

At the same time, pharmaceutical companies must share licenses, know-how and technology to support vaccine production across regions.

Funding from donors and international financial institutions must also be increased, as must the fight against the “plague” of vaccine misinformation.

“We have seen hopeful progress when supply is secure and predictable … when doses are donated with ample shelf life … and when there is a deep understanding of what a country needs to speed up vaccinations,” said Mr. Guterres.

Ensure fair and full access

The President of the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), Collen Vixen Kelapile, addressed the dichotomy of the COVID-19 pandemic.

On the one hand, the crisis has shattered lives and livelihoods, including fallout, and wiped out progress in achieving Goals for sustainable development (SDGs).

However, he added that it has also shown the best that humanity can achieve, with the development of vaccines in record time.

“The extent to which we are able to ensure fair and equal access to the vaccines will determine the ability of the most vulnerable countries to recover from the pandemic,” he said.

“It will determine whether the world can really overcome the pandemic and embark on a sustainable recovery and reach the SDGs.”

Against the use of force in Ukraine

Ahead of the start of the debate, the President of the General Assembly spoke about the burgeoning crisis in Ukraine, following the start of Russia’s so-called “special military operation” this week.

“This military operation undermines global security and stability and is contrary to the principles of the UN Charter,” he said.

Recalling a statement he issued Thursday, Mr Shahid stressed that “the use of force and coercion has no place in the 21st century.”

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