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China, 74 countries call for vaccine equity

In this file photo taken on Sept 19, 2017, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres speaks during the General Debate of the 72nd session of the United Nations General Assembly, at the UN headquarters in New York. (PHOTO / XINHUA)

UNITED NATIONS – Some 75 countries, including China, on Friday called for global solidarity for vaccine equity at the General Debate of the Third Committee of the UN General Assembly.

The pandemic knows no borders. The only solution lies in global solidarity, unity and multilateral cooperation, said the countries in a joint statement.

Many countries, in particular the developing world, still lack adequate access to available and affordable vaccines, according to the statement

"We call on all states and stakeholders to strengthen solidarity and international cooperation to contain, mitigate and overcome the pandemic and its consequences, ensure protection for those most affected, including women, children, youth, the older persons and persons with disabilities, and take measures to counter misinformation, disinformation, stigmatization, racism and xenophobia," Zhang Jun, China's permanent representative to the United Nations, said, reading from the joint statement.

The signatories to the joint statement recognized the need to begin treating the COVID-19 vaccine as a global public good for health. They commended the contributions made by relevant countries and platforms such as Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator and its vaccine pillar, the COVAX facility, for promoting vaccine accessibility and affordability through bilateral and multilateral channels.

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However, vaccine equity is still far from being reached. The progress on vaccine roll-out has been widely uneven and unfair. Many countries, in particular the developing world, still lack adequate access to available and affordable vaccines, according to the statement.

"We are also worried by disturbing trend of vaccine nationalism and stockpiling of vaccine doses beyond need. In that regard, we welcome the World Health Organization's call to prioritize vaccinating the people most at-risk around the world who are yet to receive their first dose."

The 75 countries called on all states and relevant stakeholders to step up coordinated and concerted efforts for fair and equitable distribution of vaccines in developing countries. They also called on capable vaccine-producing countries to translate their commitments into action and ensure timely and adequate delivery of vaccine support to receiving countries.

The signatories encouraged support to the ACT Accelerator and COVAX and calls on international financial institutions and other international organizations to provide financial support for vaccine procurement and for strengthening production capabilities in developing countries.

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They also welcomed the efforts of civil society, the private sector, academia and all relevant stakeholders in vaccine research, production and delivery, and calls on all states and all stakeholders to strengthen global solidarity and jointly promote the fair, affordable, equitable, timely and universal distribution and strengthen local production of vaccines around the world.