UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Thursday, March 11, 2021 renewed his call for a global vaccination campaign as the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic clocked one year.
In a statement, Guterres stated that equity in vaccine distribution represented the “greatest moral test of our times”.
It was on March 11, 2020 that the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared the coronavirus a pandemic.
Noting that the world had faced “a tsunami of suffering” since then, Guterres stated that there was “some light at the end of the tunnel” with the vaccine roll-out.
“COVAX, the global vaccine equity mechanism, has started delivery around the world, including to some of the lowest-income countries.
“Yet I am deeply concerned that many low-income countries have not yet received a single dose, while wealthier countries are on track to vaccinating their entire population.
“We see many examples of vaccine nationalism and vaccine hoarding in wealthier countries, as well as continued side deals with manufacturers that undermine access for all.”
As of Thursday afternoon, no fewer than 328 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines had been administered in 126 countries, according to CNN.
Data compiled by the New York Times show that, on continental basis, North America is leading with 17 doses administered per 100 people.
Europe is second with 10.2 doses/100 people, followed by South America (4.7 doses/100), Asia (2.6 doses/100), Africa (0.4 doses/100people) and Oceania (0.3 doses/100).
Looking back at the last 12 months, the UN chief said it had been a year of “empty office buildings, quiet streets and closed schools in much of the world”.
“I commend women, men and young people everywhere for adapting to work, learn and live in new ways.
“I honour health workers for their dedication and sacrifice and all other essential workers who have kept societies running.
“I salute all those who have stood up to the deniers and disinformation, and have followed science and safety protocols. You have helped save lives,” he said.
Guterres said the UN would continue to mobilise the international community through the COVAX facility to make vaccines affordable and available for all.