'Only 0.3% of Covid vaccine doses have gone to low-income countries'

Vaccinating everyone, everywhere is the only way to end the pandemic, says UN chief


News Desk May 27, 2021
PHOTO: REUTERS/FILE

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has said that more than 82 per cent of the world’s Covid-19 vaccine doses have gone to affluent countries, compared to just 0.3 per cent in low-income countries.

"Vaccinating everyone, everywhere is the only way to end the pandemic and prevent more dangerous variants from gaining a foothold," he wrote on his official Twitter handle on Thursday.

A day earlier, Guterres called for solidarity with Africa in the fight against Covid-19 and recovery from the pandemic.

"We need to move towards sustainable economic growth that protects the environment, promotes human rights and strengthens the social contract. And we need a stronger sense of solidarity and multilateral cooperation to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals and leave no one behind.

"Now for that to be possible, we also need to express very clear solidarity with the African continent in this dramatic moment in which we are still under the terrible impact of the Covid-19 pandemic," he told the opening of the Africa Dialogue Series 2021, a series of high-level public policy debates.

Read more: UN chief calls for making 2021 'year of healing'

It is totally unacceptable that vaccines are not now fully available to the African continent, that Africa is dramatically lagging behind in vaccination, Guterres added. "I do believe that vaccines must be affordable and available everywhere."

That is why he has been insisting with the Group of 20 countries to create a global vaccination plan and to create an emergency task force for that purpose, he explained.

Vaccination is very important but not enough. African countries need financial support to relaunch their economies, the UN secretary-general said.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) predictions that sub-Saharan Africa will grow only 3 per cent in 2021, compared with 6 per cent for the global economy, are worrisome, he said.

It is absolutely essential that African countries receive the financial support they need at the present moment to protect their citizens and to be able to relaunch their economies. The IMF Special Drawing Rights should be put at the disposal of the African continent. Effective debt relief, not only for least developed countries but for all developing countries and middle-income countries that need it, must be put at the disposal of African countries, he said.

Also read: Cooperate on climate or 'we will be doomed': UN chief

"I believe that development requires conditions to be successful, and two basic conditions today are to support Africa for effective vaccination and support Africa to relaunch its economies and to have a sustainable and inclusive recovery," Guterres added.

To date, only 0.3 per cent of Covid vaccine doses have been administered in the world’s poorest countries, which are home to nearly 10 per cent of the global population.

The UN chief last week called on the G-20 to set up a task force that brings together all countries with vaccine production capacities and others who can help boost the manufacturing of vaccines and other tools needed to battle Covid.

"It should aim to at least double manufacturing capacity by exploring all options, from voluntary licences and technology transfers to patent pooling and flexibility on intellectual property rights," he said.

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