Covid-19: calls increase for universal access to vaccines

As the new coronavirus pandemic continues to make more than two million deaths worldwide, several international organizations and experts are mobilizing for international cooperation and solidarity in the face of Covid-19, increasing calls for equitable access to vaccines against the virus.

On Monday, the UN Secretary-General‘s Special Representative for Disaster Risk Reduction, Mami Mizutori, called for increased support to developing countries in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, saying that โ€œimmunity is not the privilege of a few but a right for all.โ€

โ€œThe loss of human lives due to this pandemic is equivalent to eight tsunamis in the Indian Ocean, but support for the most exposed countries is unfortunately not as fast as the generous way we saw after the Indian Ocean tsunami that killed some 228,000 people of many different nationalities,โ€ she said.

โ€œThe money raised in response to the Indian Ocean tsunami amounted to US$6.25 billion to help 14 affected countries. Today, we are challenged to raise the $4 billion that WHO is asking for for the COVAX initiative to secure vaccines for low- and middle-income countries,โ€ said Mizutori.

โ€œIt is a troubling situation that 95% of the vaccines that have been administered so far have been injected in only ten countries (…) Low- and middle-income countries with large exposed populations are neglectedโ€.

She urged the international community to fund the COVAX initiative without delay so that โ€œimmunity is not the privilege of a few but the right of allโ€.

For his part, WHO boss Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus warned that the world would face a โ€œcatastrophic moral failureโ€ if rich countries grabbed Covid-19 vaccines to the detriment of poor countries.

โ€œI must be frank. The world is on the brink of catastrophic moral failure, and the price of this failure will be paid by lives and livelihoods in the world’s poorest countries,โ€ said the Director-General of the World Health Organization.

In a speech at the opening of a meeting of the UN Executive Board in Geneva, he criticized the โ€œselfishโ€ attitude of wealthy countries and strongly criticized vaccine manufacturers seeking regulatory approval in wealthy states rather than submitting their data to WHO to get a global green light for the world. use of the vaccine.

Believing that the promise of equitable access worldwide to coronavirus vaccines was now compromised, the WHO head pointed out that 39 million doses of coronavirus vaccine had already been administered in at least 49 wealthy countries.

At the same time, โ€œonly 25 doses were administered in one of the lowest income countries. Not 25 million, not 25,000, just 25,โ€ he lamented.

Mr. Tedros said that while some countries wanted to be reassuring about equitable access to vaccines, they prioritized their own agreements with manufacturers, climbing prices and trying to bypass queues.

He reported that 44 agreements had been concluded in 2020 between these countries and manufacturers, and at least 12 had been signed since the beginning of the year.

โ€œThe situation is compounded by the fact that most manufacturers have prioritized regulatory approval in wealthy countries with the highest profits, rather than submitting full dossiers to WHO,โ€ he lamented.

โ€œThis selfish approach not only endangers the poorest and most vulnerable in the world, but it is also doomed to failure,โ€ he warned.

โ€œUltimately, these actions will only prolong the pandemic and our suffering, as well as the restrictions necessary to contain it, and human and economic suffering,โ€ Tedros said.