UNITED NATIONS — The United Nations chief criticized the many examples of vaccine nationalism and vaccine hoarding as well as side deals with COVID-19 vaccine manufacturers that undermine access to all people in the world.
Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said in a statement marking one year since the U.N. World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic that the global vaccination campaign represents the greatest moral test of our times.
Ensuring that all people are vaccinated — and many low-income countries have not yet received a single dose — is essential to restart the global economy and help the world move from locking down societies to locking down the virus, he said.
Guterres reiterated his call for COVID-19 vaccines to be seen as a global public good.
The world needs to unite to produce and distribute sufficient vaccines for all, which means at least doubling manufacturing capacity around the world, he said. That effort must start now.
The secretary-general paid tribute to health workers and other essential workers who have kept societies running.
I salute all those who have stood up to the deniers and disinformation, and have followed science and safety protocols, he said. You have helped save lives.
Guterres also commended women, men and young people everywhere for adapting to work, learn and live in new ways.
So many lives have been lost, he said. Economies have been upended and societies left reeling. The most vulnerable have suffered the most. Those left behind are being left even further behind.
Some 117 million people are confirmed to have been infected by the coronavirus, and according to Johns Hopkins, more than 2.6 million people have died.
Guterres said the United Nations will keep pressing for affordable vaccines available for everyone and a recovery that improves the economy.