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    Vaccine for all Special meeting of the ECOSOC held

    Chitral Times Report

    ISLAMABAD: Deputy permanent representative Aamir khan delivered national statement from Pakistan, says a press release received here today from New York.  Excellencies president of ECOSOC, president of general assembly, director general who, secretary general WTO, Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, I thank the president of ECOSOC for hosting this event. COVID-19 has exposed and exacerbated the disparities between countries and peoples. This is glaring as we grapple with equitable access to the Covid-19 vaccines. As the Secretary General recently pointed out, 10 countries of the world account for 75% of the vaccines so far administered. Almost 40% of the population in the US, 48% in UK, 16-18% in European countries on the average have received at least one dose of the vaccine. Conversely, most Asian countries, including my own, African countries, and South American countries have only been able to provide the same for 1% to 3% of their population.

     

    There are still countries that have not been able to administer even a single dose of the vaccine. If we continue in this manner, it is estimated that some Asian countries would only be able to vaccinate 70% of their populations in 2022, while African countries may have to wait till 2023. In these circumstances, export restrictions, vaccine nationalism, non-fulfillment of supply commitments, bilateral advance purchase agreements, further aggravate vaccine inequity. Delays in vaccination increase risks of the virus mutating. This in turn, could lead to reduced efficacy of the vaccine, or worse, rendering it ineffective altogether. Cleary, we will be safe only when everyone is vaccinated. Leaving no one behind is a moral imperative but also a practical requirement. To this end, we need to take several concrete decisions and actions: First, Production has to be ramped up significantly by sharing know how with countries that have manufacturing capacity.

     

    This requires waving IP requirements and relying on the TRIPS flexibilities. We, therefore, call for lifting of these IP restrictions on permanent or at least on a temporary basis till the end of the pandemic. This would enable large scale production of the vaccine. This measure assumes greater significance as some vaccines are being put out of use due to associated health risks. Second, Ensure adequate funding for the ACT Accelerator including the COVAX mechanism which still requires an additional US$ 22.1 billion to deliver on its promise. We urge generous contributions to overcome this funding gap. Third, Countries with weak health systems face serious challenges in administering the vaccine due to limited numbers of trained healthcare workers and lack of associated infrastructure.

     

    They require urgent financial and technical support from donors, including financing through multilateral development banks, and investment in vaccine production and healthcare systems from the private sector, to achieve country-preparedness for vaccine roll-out. Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, The Political Declaration on Equitable Global Access to Covid 19-Vaccines endorsed by 181 member states, which Pakistan co-drafted, was recently launched at the GA Hall. It is time to translate our commitments and treat the Covid-19 vaccine as a “global public good” to ensure vaccine equity and universal coverage. Without this, the virus would roam large and return; exacerbate inequalities and retard global economic and social recovery, reversing progress towards the SDGs and the Climate goals.

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