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UN secretary-general opposes “vaccine nationalism”

There are concerns that high demand for a COVID-19 vaccine from rich countries could make it inaccessible to poor countries.

• September 23, 2020
Antonio Guterres
Antonio Guterres (Photo Credit: Twitter)

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Tuesday denounced “vaccine nationalism” among some developed countries, saying it is “unfair” and “self-serving”.

At the general debate of the UN General Assembly, Mr. Guterres reiterated his call for global solidarity to defeat the coronavirus pandemic.

“We are working to advance treatments and therapies as a global public good, and backing efforts for a people’s vaccine available and affordable everywhere.

“Yet some countries are reportedly making side deals exclusively for their own populations.

“Such ‘vaccinationalism’ is not only unfair, it is self-defeating.

“None of us is safe, until all of us are safe,” he said.

Some wealthy countries, including the US, UK and Canada have pre-ordered millions of potential coronavirus vaccines for their citizens – a practice referred to as ‘vaccine nationalism’.

The UN executive echoed concerns by stakeholders that the move could leave poor countries behind, thereby undermining efforts to defeat the pandemic.

“Since the beginning, we have pushed for a massive rescue package worth at least 10 per cent of the global economy.

“Developed countries have provided enormous relief for their own societies. They can afford it.

“But we need to ensure that the developing world does not fall into financial ruin, escalating poverty, and debt crises.

“We need a collective commitment to avoid a downward spiral,” he said.

In his address, US President Donald Trump reaffirmed commitment to his “America First” agenda, saying it was the right thing to do.

“As president, I have rejected the failed approaches of the past, and I am proudly putting America First, just as you should be putting your countries first,” he said.

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