UN Secretary-General, António Guterres, said on Friday, June 11, 2021 that lifesaving Coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccines should be considered “global public goods” and a way of defecting the pandemic.
Guterres told journalists at the G7 Summit of leading industrialised nations taking place in Cornwall, United Kingdom via videolink.
The UN chief said there was no other way of defeating a virus “which spreads” across developing countries “like wildfire” and “risks mutating” other than through equitable, mass vaccination.
He said that shots needed to be available and affordable to all,“that is not only a matter of fairness and justice but it’s also a question of efficiency.
“It is a question of efficiency that mutations abide by Darwin’s laws of evolution, meaning that the worst viruses tend to survive, multiply and eventually disable the vaccines.
“Vaccination programmes so far, have been unequal and very unfair,’’ the top UN official said.
Guterres said he was encouraged by the announcement made ahead of the G7, by the International Monetary Fund together with the World Bank, World Health Organisation (WHO) and World Trade Organisation.
He said he was encouraged regarding a 50 billion dollars programme to support vaccination delivery in developing countries.
The UN chief was also heartened by the recent announcements of the United States and United Kingdom to donate more than half a billion doses to nations least able to afford them.
Guterres welcomed UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s announcement that he expected the G7 to provide a billion pledged doses by the end of the summit.
“We are at war” with the coronavirus, he said, that continues to cause “tremendous suffering” and destroy the global economy.
To defeat the virus, we must “boost our weapons,” he added, calling for a “global vaccination plan”.
The secretary-general spoke of his proposal for vaccine-producing countries to come together in an emergency task force supported by WHO, the vaccine alliance GAVI and international financial institutions to define and implement a plan.
“We need really those who have the power to organise an effective response to COVID and the only way to be effective is guaranteeing that everybody will be vaccinated sooner rather than later,” he said.
The UN chief said climate action was his other priority for the first in-person G7 meeting since the pandemic began.
The secretary-general, therefore, expressed hope that the G7 meeting would help pave the way for new and important decisions in the future.
“I think it is absolutely essential to guarantee that through the COP 26 (UN climate conference) in Glasgow,” he said, warning that it might prove to be “the last opportunity” to make the right decisions.
By Cecilia Ologunagba