UN chief: Inequity in global COVID-19 vaccine rollout an ‘obscenity’


United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Tuesday denounced the gaping inequality in the global COVID-19 vaccine rollout, deeming it an “obscenity” and calling for a plan to boost production. 

“A majority of the wealthier world vaccinated. Over 90 percent of Africans still waiting for their first dose,” Guterres said in his address to the UN General Assembly. “This is a moral indictment of the state of our world. It is an obscenity.”

“We passed the science test,” he added. “But we are getting an F in Ethics.”

The striking comments from the UN chief come one day before President Biden will be convening a global COVID-19 summit, aimed at boosting vaccine supplies. Biden will reportedly be announcing another donation of 500 million doses of vaccine for the world, on top of the more than 600 million doses the U.S. already planned to donate this year and next. 

The Biden administration has been under pressure to do more to vaccinate the world, though, including not only dose donations, but also boosting global manufacturing to make more doses, and facilitating the transfer of manufacturing know-how to other countries. 

“We urgently need a global vaccination plan to at least double vaccine production and ensure that vaccines reach seventy percent of the world’s population in the first half of 2022,” Guterres said. 

The global inequities have been highlighted even more as wealthy countries move forward with plans to offer booster shots, at least among more vulnerable populations, while many people in lower-income countries are still waiting for their first shot. 

The Biden administration has argued that it can both help vaccinate the world and provide boosters. 

Tags Antonio Guterres COVID-19 vaccines Joe Biden UN General Assembly vaccine inequity

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