COVID-19 vaccine must be affordable and available to all, says UN Chief


UN Secretary-General António Guterres declared in his press conference on Wednesday, “the coronavirus outbreak remains out of control” and noted that soon one million lives will be “lost to the virus”.

He emphasized that because the virus respects no borders, a vaccine must be seen as a global public good, affordable and available to all, but it requires a quantum leap in funding.

The Secretary-General was speaking at a press conference ahead of the UN General Assembly (UNGA) High Level Week saying that the continuing COVID-19 pandemic continues to top a long list of global concerns by the UN.

Recognizing that many pin their hopes on a vaccine, he said, “Let’s be clear: There is no panacea in a pandemic”.

“A vaccine alone cannot solve this crisis, certainly not in the near term,” stressed the world’s top diplomat. “We need to massively expand new and existing tools that can respond to new cases and provide vital treatment to suppress transmission and save lives, especially over the next 12 months.”

Moreover, people must be willing to be vaccinated, but a proliferation of misinformation on vaccines is fuelling vaccine-hesitancy, and igniting wild conspiracy theories, noted the UN chief.

He spoke of “alarming reports” that large populations in various countries are reluctant, or outright refusing, to take a new coronavirus vaccine.

“In the face of this lethal disease, we must do our utmost to halt deadly misinformation,” affirmed the Secretary-General.

Mr. Guterres called for a global ceasefire back in March, recognizing the coronavirus as “the number one global security threat in our world today”.

And next Tuesday he flagged that would renew the appeal at the beginning of the General Debate, for the international community to mobilize all efforts for the global ceasefire to become a reality by the end of the year.

The UN chief recapped that hopeful new steps toward peace have been taken, from Afghanistan to Sudan, and a slowdown in fighting in Syria, Libya, Ukraine and elsewhere, had created an opportunity for diplomacy.

“In Yemen, we are pressing for a ceasefire, and even though distrust is deep across these and other crises, we must persevere,” he said.

“We must seize every opening in the weeks ahead and make a new collective push for peace,” stressed the Secretary-General.

The UN chief then turned to other global fragilities.

“Even before the pandemic, the world was far off course in efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and losing the battle against climate change,” he said.

Mr. Guterres recalled that the northern hemisphere was just coming out of the hottest summer on record and that greenhouse gas concentrations in 2020 had reached new record highs.

“The world is burning,” he told the journalists.

However, Mr. Guterres maintained that the post-pandemic phase offered an opportunity to “get on track and tame the flames, but that it must be green” – aligned with the SDGs and the Paris Climate Agreement. (Source: UN News)