Covid-19 vaccines should be available to all: Vietnam to UN

By Vu Anh   February 18, 2021 | 12:45 am PT
Covid-19 vaccines should be available to all: Vietnam to UN
Vials are seen in front of a displayed AstraZeneca logo in a illustration photo taken October 31, 2020. Photo by Reuters/Dado Ruvi.
The international community should unite to ensure global access to Covid-19 vaccines, Deputy Prime Minister Pham Binh Minh told a United Nations meeting.

Countries need to cooperate in implementing effective pandemic response and vaccination strategies, treating Covid-19 vaccines as a mutual asset of the international community, ensuring affordable vaccines for all and giving priority to groups at high risk of infection and those on the front lines in the fight against the pandemic, the deputy PM, who is also Vietnam’s Foreign Affairs Minister, said as he attended an online meeting of the United Nations Security Council on Wednesday.

The event saw participation of the U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres, the prime minister of the Islands of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, foreign ministers of the U.S., China, India, Ireland, Kenya, Mexico, Norway, representatives of the U.N. Security Council, and leaders of several international organizations.

Minh called on countries to increase their contributions to Covid-19 Vaccines Global Access, or Covax, a global mechanism for developing, manufacturing and procuring Covid-19 vaccine candidates and helping member countries access vaccines as they become available, to enable the distribution of vaccines to developing countries and people in conflict zones.

He also asked the U.N. council to strengthen the implementation of Resolution 2532, considering it a prerequisite for the U.N. and other stakeholders to distribute vaccines for humanitarian purposes.

Adopted on July 1, 2020 the resolution is part of the U.N.’s response to the pandemic, demanding "a general and immediate cessation of hostilities in all situations on its agenda," while calling on all parties engaged in armed conflicts to "engage immediately in a durable humanitarian pause for at least 90 consecutive days."

He said the international community needs to continue to unite and strengthen multilateral cooperation to effectively coordinate joint efforts on pandemic prevention, affirming Vietnam would continue to contribute its best to the joint efforts to overcome the pandemic.

On Feb. 15, the World Health Organization approved the emergency use of two versions of the Covid-19 vaccine developed by AstraZeneca in collaboration with the University of Oxford, "giving the green light for these vaccines to be rolled out globally through Covax," WHO said.

Of the 128 million vaccine doses administered so far, more than three quarters are in just 10 countries that account for 60 percent of the global gross domestic product, UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore and WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a joint statement on Feb. 10.

As of today, almost 130 countries, with 2.5 billion people, are yet to administer a single dose.

"This self-defeating strategy will cost lives and livelihoods, give the virus further opportunity to mutate and evade vaccines and will undermine a global economic recovery," read the statement.

International NGO Oxfam said in September wealthy nations representing just 13 percent of the world’s population have already cornered more than half (51 percent) of the promised doses of leading Covid-19 vaccine candidates.

Vietnam has ordered 30 million doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine within the first half of this year. The country is also stepping up negotiations with the U.S.’s Pfizer and Moderna, along with other vaccine manufacturers in Russia and China. The country is set to receive the first batch of 204,000 doses soon.

Covax also announced last month it would provide between 4.9 million and 8.2 million vaccine doses to Vietnam within the first half of this year.

Vietnam has four domestic Covid-19 vaccines under development by Nanogen Pharmaceutical Biotechnology JSC, the Institute of Vaccines and Medical Biologicals, Vaccine and Biological Production Company No. 1 and the Center for Research and Production of Vaccines and Biologicals.

To date, more than 2.44 million people have died of Covid-19 worldwide after over 110.43 million infections.

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