UN chief says 'solidarity' is missing in fights against pandemic, climate change

UN chief says 'solidarity' is missing in fights against pandemic, climate change
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While the world has made considerable strides in the scientific development of COVID-19 vaccines and treatments, solidarity in sharing these among lower income countries is severely lacking, United Nations Secretary General António Guterres is slated to tell world leaders on Tuesday.

Guterres will specifically call out wealthy nations for not doing more to share vaccines with poorer countries, calling attention to inequality in how vaccines are being given out.

“Solidarity is missing in action — just when we need it most,” he is expected to say to over 100 global leaders and heads of state in New York City at the 76th U.N. General Assembly (UNGA), according to a copy of the address obtained by The Washington Post.

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In his speech, Guterres is anticipated to say that the world “passed the science test” but “are getting an F in ethics,” the Post reports.

Data from COVAX notes that about 20 percent of people in low-income countries have been given their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine as opposed to 80 percent in richer nations. 

The World Health Organization (WHO) had established COVAX, a program dedicated to the equitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccine doses, as vaccines were nearing final development in late 2020.

Recent estimates suggest the program will fall 30 percent short of its goal to distribute two million doses of a COVID-19 vaccine by the end of 2021.

Some of the factors contributing to the program’s underperformance include manufacturing holdups and exporting restrictions, but WHO leaders have vocalized the need for wealthier nations to contribute more vaccine doses to the program.

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has been a particularly vocal critic of the movement to administer booster vaccinations, calling for a moratorium on booster shot plans until all countries have achieved stronger levels of vaccination. 

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Global data compiled by The New York Times estimates that 5.98 billion vaccine doses have been administered, amounting to roughly 78 doses per 100 people. 

Guterres and other global public health leaders have long denounced vaccine hoarding among wealthier countries like the U.S., while other nations have not been able to secure the same lucrative contracts with pharmaceutical companies.

In his address, Guterres is expected to take a similar tone to vaccines when he discusses climate change by emphasizing that the world is “on the edge of an abyss” and “moving in the wrong direction.”