FIGHTING THE PANDEMIC

Vaccine inequity is giving variants a free pass to run wild- Guterres

Said Africa will not meet the 70 per cent threshold until August 2024.

In Summary

• Guterres said that it is now clear that coronavirus is not going away, and that it is becoming clear that vaccines alone will not eradicate the pandemic.

• The secretary-general further said that the pandemic cannot be defeated in an uncoordinated way.

United Nation’s Secretary General Antonio Guterres.
United Nation’s Secretary General Antonio Guterres.
Image: UN

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has expressed his concern over inequality in sharing and distribution of Covid-19 vaccines.

In his last address this year, the UN chief said that as the pandemic raged on, the inequalities keep rising.  

He said that the burden for developing countries have been growing heavier – with diminishing resources for recovery, rising inflation, and mounting debt.

 “To add fuel to the fire, we are still off track in addressing the climate crisis – another amplifier of global injustice and inequality. I am deeply worried. If things do not improve – and improve fast – we face even harder times ahead,” Guterres said.

Guterres said that it is now clear that coronavirus is not going away, and that it is becoming clear that vaccines alone will not eradicate the pandemic.

 “Vaccines are averting hospitalization and death for the majority who get them and slowing the spread. But transmissions show no sign of letting up. This is driven by vaccine inequity, hesitancy, and complacency.”

He said the recently launched WHO strategy aiming to vaccinate 40 per cent of people in all countries by the end of the year, and 70 per cent by the middle of next year requires the total commitment of Member States.

“But just days from the deadline, 98 countries have not been able to meet that end-of-year target. 40 of them have not yet even been able to vaccinate 10 per cent of their population.”

He said that in lower-income countries, less than 4 per cent of the population are fully vaccinated, and the vaccination rates in high-income countries are 8 times higher than in the countries of Africa.

“At current rates, Africa will not meet the 70 per cent threshold until August 2024…vaccine inequity is giving variants a free pass to run wild — ravaging the health of people and economies in every corner of the globe,” Guterres added.

The secretary-general further said that the pandemic cannot be defeated in an uncoordinated way.

“All countries, especially those that have potential of responsibilities, must take concrete action in the coming days to make greater progress to achieve WHO’s global 40 per cent target, and be far more ambitious in their efforts to reach 70 per cent of people in all countries by the middle of 2022.”