Vaccine nationalism unfair, self-serving, says UN Chief

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By Harrison Arubu

United Nations, Sept. 22, 2020 UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Tuesday denounced “vaccine nationalism” among some developed countries, saying it was unfair and self-serving.

Opening the annual General Debate of the UN General Assembly, Guterres reiterated his call for global solidarity to defeat the coronavirus pandemic codenamed COVID-19.

“We are working to advance treatments and therapies as a global public good, and backing efforts for a people’s vaccine available and affordable everywhere.

“Yet some countries are reportedly making side deals exclusively for their own populations.

“Such ‘vaccinationalism’ is not only unfair, it is self-defeating.

“None of us is safe, until all of us are safe,” he said.

Some wealthy counties, including the U.S., the UK, and Canada have pre-ordered millions of potential coronavirus vaccines for their citizens.

Through this move, referred to as ‘vaccine nationalism’, these countries are striking mass purchase deals with drug manufacturers with promising vaccine candidates.

The UN Chief echoed concerns by stakeholders that the move could leave poor countries behind, thereby undermining efforts to defeat the pandemic.

“Since the beginning, we have pushed for a massive rescue package worth at least 10 per cent of the global economy.

“Developed countries have provided enormous relief for their own societies. They can afford it.

“But we need to ensure that the developing world does not fall into financial ruin, escalating poverty, and debt crises.

“We need a collective commitment to avoid a downward spiral,” he said.

In his address, U.S. President Donald Trump reaffirmed commitment to his “America First” agenda, saying it was the right thing to do.

Trump argued that it was “only when you take care of your own citizens, will you find a true basis for cooperation”.

“As President, I have rejected the failed approaches of the past, and I am proudly putting America First, just as you should be putting your countries first.

“That’s okay, that’s what you should be doing,” he said.

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