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UN rights chief leads call for global COVID-19 vaccine equity |


To date, more than 10.5 billion doses of the vaccine have been administered globally, “enough to protect the entire world’s population from severe symptoms, hospitalizations and deaths,” said the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. United Nations Michelle Bachelet said.

Despite this record, Ms. Bachelet stressed that the “grim reality” is that only about 13% of people in low-income countries have been vaccinated, compared with almost 70% in high-income countries.

‘60,000 people die every week’

Embolden Ms Bachelet’s urgency and join the call for effective strategies to tackle vaccine inequality, Tedros Adhanom GhebreyesusThe Director-General of the World Health Organization, stressed that inaction risks punishing the most vulnerable people and countries on the planet.

“We are at an inflection point in history,” he said. “We have the tools to end the acute phase of the pandemic, if we use them properly and share them equitably. But deep inequality is undermining that opportunity.

“Countries with high vaccination rates are reopening while other countries with low vaccination rates and low testing rates have been left behind. The result is more than 60,000 deaths per week, along with an increased risk of the emergence of new variants.”

Side by side with Ukraine

And amid Russia’s continued invasion of Ukraine, and the deadly bombardment of a children’s hospital in Mariupol on Wednesday, Tedros has expressed solidarity with Ukrainian medical workers.

“In Ukraine, the health system is struggling with COVID-19 and dangerously low oxygen and medical supplies while war raged around them. WHO are providing much-needed oxygen and other medical supplies as part of a humanitarian aid package. I reiterate that attacks on hospitals, medical personnel and medical transport are prohibited under international humanitarian law; any such attack is a serious violation of the Geneva Conventions. ”


A medical worker carries COVID-19 medical supplies in a camp for Ukrainian refugees, on the border with Moldova.

© WHO

A medical worker carries COVID-19 medical supplies in a camp for Ukrainian refugees, on the border with Moldova.

landmark resolution

Debate at Dong Nhan Quyen Association following the forum’s adoption of a landmark resolution last March of a resolution introduced by Azerbaijan and Ecuador calling for equitable, affordable and universal access to a COVID-19 vaccine for all states, at a time when other international organizations “cannot reach consensus” on this issue, the President of the Council explained, Federico Villegas (Argentina).

Science has saved millions of lives and livelihoods. But we have failed to administer vaccines fairly and equally. Now, this failure is perpetuating the pandemic.
Michelle Bachelet

“The world has been extremely fortunate to have an effective COVID-19 vaccine developed at an unprecedented rate,” Ms. Bachelet admitted.

“Science has saved millions of lives and livelihoods. But we have failed to administer vaccines fairly and equally. Now, this failure is prolonging the pandemic.”

COVAX . Process

Recognition of United Nations partners COVAX The High Commissioner acknowledged that there had been “some recent progress” in closing the vaccine equity gap.

But she stressed that the international community needs to “accelerate these efforts by supporting COVAX to ensure timely, predictable and effective vaccine access to all countries. In the developed world, we have no reason to let production restrictions limit our generosity, as reports suggest that tens of millions of excess vaccines are nearing their end of life unused. again. “

The UN rights chief underlined how nationalism lacking a vaccine has negatively affected the most basic rights of the world’s poorest people, especially their right to development.

“It exacerbates poverty and deepens inequality,” she said. “Unless universal and equal access to vaccines can be ensured globally, stockpiling a COVID-19 vaccine is not consistent with States’ human rights obligations.”


COVID-19 vaccinations are being implemented in communities with refugees, such as Fort Portal, in Uganda.

© UNICEF / Maria Wamala

COVID-19 vaccinations are being implemented in communities with refugees, such as Fort Portal, in Uganda.

The third year of the pandemic

The High Commissioner said: “As the world enters the third year of COVID-19, more cooperation is needed between States to contain the pandemic rapidly.

“We stand at a crossroads. Inequality and the right to development. Nationalism against international solidarity… Delaying vaccination could mean taking a decade to develop. We risk losing an entire generation of young people because of poor education and unemployment. Countries will become less resilient to new crises and shocks.

“And discontent over the human rights consequences of pandemic-related measures, which have the potential to escalate social tensions and violence, are already on the rise around the world.”

Also present at the Human Rights Council debate, UN-appointed independent rights expert Attiya Waris stressed that taking action to stop illegal tax flows and tax evasion practices, would be a step in the right direction towards vaccine equity.

Tax loopholes

“The coalition of civil society organizations, The Tax Justice Network, in their 2021 report, stated that ‘countries are losing a total of $483 billion in taxes each year due to the abuses of these institutions. rich corporations and individuals’. So it’s very much a collective problem.

“This amount would be enough to fully immunize the global population against COVID more than three times. Boost after boost after boost, and we’ll be fine. ”

Guaranteed billions of dollars in profits for a few companies and has prevented the development of more efficient, localized manufacturing responses that could be achieved much faster.
Attiya Waris

Ms. Waris, an Independent Expert on the impact of States’ external debt and other related international financial obligations on the full enjoyment of all human rights, also criticized the “delay”. in lifting intellectual property rights protections and in sharing technology and knowledge- How. This cannot be re-evaluated enough times in the process. And the delay has benefited some but harmed most.

They have “guaranteed billions of dollars in profits for a small number of companies and have prevented the development of more efficient, localized manufacturing responses that could be achieved much faster,” she said. .

The independent expert emphasized that these and other obstacles have left key health workers unprotected from the pandemic, despite the development of a COVID-19 vaccine in just 326 days. since the pandemic broke out.

“After successful vaccine development in several parts of the world a few years ago, much more can be done to ensure that health care workers and those at risk in developing countries development can be vaccinated rapidly.

“And this was not done. We could have avoided the loss of thousands of lives and severe socioeconomic impacts, and we continue to see that this is beyond the reach of much of the world. “


Healthcare workers put used COVID vaccine syringes in a container.

© UNICEF / Vinay Panjwani

Healthcare workers put used COVID vaccine syringes in a container.

Intellectual rights issues

On the conundrum of sharing intellectual property rights for vaccines as a means of increasing production worldwide, the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations (IFPMA) stressed that the situation is not so clear:

“Do not underestimate the complexity of vaccine production,” said Thomas Cueni, IFPMA Director General. “We have seen three of the biggest vaccine manufacturers fail in their efforts to create a vaccine.

“We have seen some of the largest contract manufacturers struggle to successfully scale. What I’ve heard from my friends from developing country vaccine manufacturers and innovative vaccine manufacturers is that we’ve seen unprecedented partnerships, more than 370 voluntary licenses, technology transfer. ”



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