STATEMENT ON BEHALF OF THE GROUP OF 77 AND CHINA BY AMBASSADOR MOHAMMAD AAMIR KHAN, DEPUTY PERMANENT REPRESENTATIVE OF PAKISTAN TO THE UN, AT THE HIGH-LEVEL THEMATIC DEBATE OF THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY ON "GALVANIZING MOMENTUM FOR UNIVERSAL VACCINATION" (New York, 25 February 2022)
President of the General Assembly,
Excellencies and Colleagues,
1. The COVID-19 pandemic is undoubtedly the gravest economic and social crisis of a century. It has reversed decades of progress towards the achievement of the SDGs by pushing over 100 million people into extreme poverty and loss of around 225 million full time jobs. It has exacerbated the existing vulnerabilities and systemic inequalities in the global financial architecture.
2. While it is inspiring that we have been able to produce vaccines in record time; it is regretted that the advances of science and technology are lost to vaccine inequity. Science has succeeded; solidarity is failing.
3. The inequality in access to vaccines is staggering. Two in three people in high-income countries have already been vaccinated, with many high-income countries administering booster shots, whereas only one in eight people are vaccinated in low-income countries.
4. The current global vaccination drive has put an additional burden on the already scarce fiscal space of developing countries. Low-income countries would need an additional 56% in finance to meet the vaccination challenge in comparison to 0.8% for high-income countries.
5. To meet the current challenge, vaccines for COVID-19 must be considered a global public good. Universal access to safe, effective, equitable, and affordable vaccines is the most immediate way to end the Pandemic, support economic recovery and progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals.
6. We need decisive actions for a global plan to ensure "vaccines for all". The Group believes the following elements are required for such a global plan:
First, cooperation is needed to massively expand manufacturing capacity particularly in low and middle-income countries. Investments in production facilities in the developing countries are necessary in achieving this objective.
Second, sharing of technology and information for the detection, prevention, treatment, and control of the pandemic and for vaccine production is essential. Access to health technologies for COVID-19, including through flexibilities contained in the TRIPS agreement, is immediately required. The Group supports ongoing discussions at the WTO for the temporary waiver of the provisions of the TRIPS Agreement to boost vaccine production in developing countries.
Third, local and regional capacities must be enhanced to ramp up production capacity of vaccines. Maintaining global supply chains of raw materials are important in this regard.
Fourth, options to help increase production in developing countries should include voluntary licencing, technology pools and platforms. The COVID-19 Technology Access Pool (C-TAP) could serve as a voluntary mechanism for sharing, research and development, knowledge, and data. The role of the private sector would also be important in sharing know-how and technology with vaccine manufacturing facilities in developing countries.
Fifth, the COVAX facility and the ACT accelerator should be supported and funded. Commitments and contracts that have been made towards COVAX must be fulfilled.
Sixth, excess stocks of vaccines, held by some countries, should be donated, and distributed equitably as soon as possible. Export restrictions and other displays of vaccine nationalism that restrict or slow the availability of COVID-19 vaccines, ingredients, medicine, and supplies must be ended.
Seventh, new and additional finance and capacity-building from all sources are needed to ensure that developing countries are prepared to vaccinate their people, including persons in vulnerable situations such as women, children and youth, elderly persons, people with disabilities.
Eighth, new and additional finance and capacity-building from all sources are needed to ensure that developing countries are prepared to vaccinate their health and care workers, frontline workers, and teachers who are at the forefront of pandemic response.
Nineth, the crisis provides an opportunity to strengthen health systems and advance universal health coverage. This will enable countries to be better prepared and become more resilient against future pandemics. We should also continue to maintain routine vaccinations for other diseases and sustain the prevention and treatment for other medical conditions.
Tenth, education, training, and reliable communication are needed to build trust in vaccines. Addressing misinformation and disinformation is critical for building trust in institutions and to increase vaccine uptake and discourage vaccine hesitancy.
And finally, the Group would like to highlight the importance of South-South cooperation to ensure vaccine equity.
I thank you.