António Guterres, the United Nation (UN) Secretary-General, has stated that the world cannot overcome the global pandemic with vaccines alone, but through coordinated ways.
Speaking to journalists in New York, the UN Secretary-General argued that countries must be ambitious and vaccinate majority of the world’s population by the end of the year.
“We cannot defeat a pandemic in an uncoordinated way. Countries must take concrete action in the coming days to vaccinate 40 per cent of the world’s population by the end of the year. Member States must be far more ambitious in their efforts to reach 70 per cent of people in all countries by the middle of 2022, a goal established by the World Health Organization (WHO).”António Guterres
Just days from the deadline, 98 countries have not been able to meet that end-of-year target, and 40 nations have not yet even been able to vaccinate 10 per cent of their population. In lower-income countries, less than 4 per cent of the population is immunized.
Free Pass for Variants
António Guterres bemoaned the inequity in vaccination among poor and developed world, noting that it is giving the variants free passage.
“Vaccine inequity is giving variants a free pass to run wild, ravaging the health of people and economies in every corner of the globe”.António Guterres
According to WHO, the vaccination rates in high-income countries are 8 times higher than in the countries of Africa. At current rates, the continent will not meet the 70 per cent threshold until August 2024.
As a result of this, the Secretary-General believed that “COVID-19 is not going away.”
“It is becoming clear that vaccines alone will not eradicate the pandemic. Vaccines are averting hospitalization and death for the majority who get them and slowing the spread. But transmissions show no sign of letting up. This is driven by vaccine inequity, hesitancy and complacency.”António Guterres
A difficult Year Under Review
In what is his last press conference of the year, Mr. Guterres sighed that the world is “coming to the end of a difficult year”.
In review of the year 2021, the UN Secretary-General pointed out that in 2021 while the pandemic still raged, inequalities kept rising, the burden for developing countries grew heavier and the climate crisis remained unresolved.
“I am deeply worried. If things do not improve and improve fast, we may face even harder times ahead”.António Guterres
The Un chief thus, denounced “lopsided” recovery efforts that are accelerating inequalities and increasing stresses on economies and societies.
He recalled, advanced economies mobilized nearly 28 per cent of their Gross Domestic Product into economic recovery. For middle-income countries, the number fell to 6.5 per cent, and it plummeted to 1.8 per cent for the least developed countries.
The Secretary-General highlighted projections from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) showing that cumulative economic growth per capita over the next five years in Sub-Saharan Africa will be 75 per cent less than the rest of the world.
Speaking about the response to the pandemic and the international financial system, the Secretary-General argued that they reveal governance failures that are also moral failures.
Mr. Guterres indicated that he is “determined that 2022 must be the year in which we finally address the deficits in both governance systems”