UN Sec. Gen. on board with Big Pharma goal to ‘get vaccines into arms’ around the globe

At an event that saw world leaders hand over $4.8 billion “to help lower-income nations boost vaccination rates, and secure better access for new vaccine procurements,” United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres addressed the need to get COVID-19 vaccines “into arms” of the billions who have yet to submit to the jab.

It “means having strong national vaccine-delivery systems at the ready –including efforts to counter disinformation and get vaccines into arms,” Guterres said while addressing the GAVI COVAX international vaccine equity initiative’s Advance Market Commitment Summit last week.

“I also call on countries to commit new funding for the ACT (Access to COVID-19 Tools)-Accelerator and COVAX this year,” he added.

COVAX, short for “COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access,” is a worldwide initiative co-led by the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI); Gavi, a global Vaccine Alliance; and the World Health Organization (WHO).

According to Guterres, the summit was “a critical reminder that the COVID-19 pandemic is far from over.”

“We’re seeing 1.5 million new cases each day,” Guterres said, pointing to “large outbreaks” spreading in Asia and “a new wave sweeping across Europe.”

 

Some countries, according to the U.N., are “reporting their highest death rates since the start of the pandemic.”

Guterres pointed to the spread of the BA2 subvariant of Omicron, calling it “a startling reminder of how quickly COVID-19 can mutate and spread — especially in the absence of high vaccination coverage” and noting that one-third of the planet is still lacking a first dose of the vaccine, while people in some “higher-income” nations are preparing for their second booster.

“This is a brutal indictment of our deeply unequal world,” Guterres said. “It’s also a prime breeding ground for new variants, more deaths, and increased human and economic misery.”

While 1.5 billion doses of the vaccine are being manufactured every month, Guterres stressed that the U.N. and its partners are still a long way away from realizing their goal of “70 percent vaccination coverage by the middle of this year,” and maintained “time is of the essence” because new variants are emerging every four months, give or take.

Thanks to the “remarkable” COVAX Facility and its Advance Market Commitment mechanism, 1.2 billion doses of the vaccine have been delivered to “countries in need,” Guterres said.

“This proves that progress is possible,” he continued. “But the window is closing fast. And we need to help all countries able to locally produce tests, vaccines and treatments.”

And though the pandemic is not yet over, Guterres claimed “it can be.”

The solution, Guterres assured leaders, is more government and Big Pharma involvement.

Governments and pharmaceutical companies need to work together in a better way, said the U.N. chief, in order to deliver vaccines “to every person, everywhere.”

The GAVI Vaccine Alliance hosted the summit alongside Germany (which holds the G7 presidency in 2022), Indonesia (holding the G20 presidency), Senegal (whose President is chairing the African Union this year), and Ghana.

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