On 30 November 2020, President Bozkir launched an initiative called #Vaccines4All, calling on UN Member States to support global, multilateral efforts to achieve fair and equitable access to vaccines.
To emerge from the COVID-19 crisis, we need viable vaccines that are fairly and equitably accessible to all people, everywhere.
This pandemic has already taken the lives of at least 1.6 million people and infected over 72 million more.
And it is not over yet. Transmission rates continue to rise in every corner of the globe. While mitigation efforts are helping to reduce transmission and mortality, and will remain crucial to addressing the pandemic throughout 2021, the long-term solution must be a globally accessible vaccine.
COVID-19 will not be beaten one country at a time. Vaccines only work if a critical threshold of people are covered. It is therefore a moral and practical imperative that we cover all people, with particular support for the poorest and most vulnerable.
How can we ensure #Vaccines4All?
Developing vaccines is clearly a big challenge, but it will be far from the last. The international community is also faced with producing sufficient quantities to cover all people; prioritizing those most at risk, such as the elderly and frontline workers; ensuring adequate and reliable storage and distribution systems; and avoiding a ‘vaccine race’ whereby we are left with haves and have-nots. In that scenario, nobody is truly safe.
The only way to address these global challenges is through a global, multilateral approach. An overwhelming majority of the international community has already thrown its support behind the World Health Organization-led ACT-Accelerator and its COVAX Facility, which seeks to ensure that vaccine access is fair and equitable. This mechanism, and other initiatives that aim to bolster it, such as UNICEF’s distribution systems, must be supported with political and financial resources to ensure success.
The key takeaway is that only by working together, across borders and amongst countries, can we truly halt COVID-19.
An Initiative of the President of the General Assembly
While $2 billion has been allocated to the COVAX Facility to accelerate the development, manufacturing and access to vaccines, an additional $5 billion will be required in 2021 to ensure equitable distribution of these vaccines to vulnerable populations, such as healthcare workers and the elderly, in least developed countries. A rapid scale-up – by Member States, private sector partners and multilateral institutions – is urgent.
As a convener of Member States and partners, the President of the General Assembly has a unique and unparalleled role to play in shoring up political support and generating financial commitments.
This process has already begun. The General Assembly’s special session on COVID-19, which was held on 3-4 December 2020, brought together Member States, scientists, civil society groups and UN agencies, to address the unique challenges associated with developing and distributing viable COVID-19 vaccines. This conversation must continue. The President of the General Assembly will thus work to keep a spotlight on vaccines throughout the Assembly’s 75th session.