United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Wednesday reiterated his call for equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines.
"I want to utilize this vital platform today to once again urge all countries, economies, and manufacturers to work with - and through - the COVAX facility to realize the commitments of equitable access, especially for the most vulnerable," the UN chief said in his pre-recorded video message to the High-level Webinar on the African COVID-19 Vaccine Financing and Deployment Strategy.
"We must ensure that vaccines are seen as a global public good - people's vaccines - accessible and affordable to all," said the secretary-general. "We must work together to prioritize those most at risk in all countries and close the financing gap."
The top UN official commended the African Union's efforts through the COVID-19 African Vaccine Acquisition Task Force to secure an additional 270 million vaccine doses for African countries, complementing the cooperation with COVAX.
"We applaud the African Export-Import Bank initiative to avail financing for countries to access the new vaccines and the recent efforts by ECOWAS (Economic Community of West African States) to meeting your ambition of reaching at least 60 percent of the population as quickly as possible," he said.
"Vaccine equity is in every country's self-interest. It is also the fastest way to reopen the global economy and start a sustainable recovery," said the UN chief.
He expressed his regret that inequities are growing in COVID-19 vaccine access and use.
"We cannot have a world divided between vaccine haves and have-nots," Guterres stressed.
The secretary-general pointed out that "while we all know that COVID-19 vaccines bring a much-needed source of hope, we must not neglect existing interventions and services."
"We need to continue strengthening essential health services and systems and routine immunization programs," he said.