China's ambassador to the United Nations on Friday called on all countries to strengthen solidarity and achieve vaccine equity at an early day to overcome the unfair distribution of inoculations and increasing "vaccine nationalism" as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to rage across the world.
In a joint statement made on behalf of 75 countries, including Mexico, Pakistan and South Africa, Zhang Jun, China's permanent representative to the UN, noted that vaccines are a powerful weapon against viruses. Nevertheless, as "a global public good", their equity is "far from being reached", and their accessibility and affordability "need to be solved urgently".
Every human being is entitled to the right of life and health, he said. The ambassador called on all countries to actively promote the fair and rational distribution of vaccines across the globe, to ensure that no country or individual is left behind, and to jointly defeat the pandemic at an early date.
Developing countries need to be prioritized in vaccine distribution. It's important to promote the equitable distribution of vaccines in developing countries as soon as possible, Zhang pointed out.
He called on "capable vaccine-producing countries" to "translate their commitments into actions" as soon as possible and to actively provide vaccine support to developing countries in "a timely and adequate" manner through bilateral and multilateral channels.
Zhang also urged international financial institutions and other international organizations to provide financial support to developing countries to procure doses and to strengthen their production capacity for vaccines.
The ambassador stressed that countries working together is the only way to overcome the pandemic.
"The pandemic knows no borders. The only solution lies in global solidarity, unity and multilateral cooperation," Zhang said.
Countries should strengthen international cooperation in vaccines, reject vaccine nationalism and avoid stockpiling, lift export restrictions on relevant vaccines and raw materials, and ensure cross-border flows of vaccines, he said.
Zhang urged the World Trade Organization to make a decision on the waiver of intellectual property rights for COVID-19 vaccines as soon as possible.
The world is still in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. During the just concluded General Debate of the 76th session of the UN General Assembly, leaders of many developing countries said that Western countries are stockpiling a large number of vaccines, which has significantly exacerbated vaccine inequity and created a man-made "immunization gap", Zhang said.
They called for vaccines to be used as a global public good to ensure that doses are accessible and affordable. The UN secretary-general has called for accelerating the fair distribution of vaccines to ensure that no country is left behind. The director-general of the World Health Organization has also urged that priority be given to vaccinating people most at risk around the world, he said.
"Under this situation, the joint statement and strong voices of 75 countries, including China, will strongly promote international anti-pandemic cooperation and make important contributions to the final victory of the pandemic," Zhang said.