UN member states issue declaration to battle unfair access to COVID-19 vaccines

The “Political Declaration on Equitable Global Access to COVID-19 Vaccines” was initiated by Lebanon’s Ambassador to the UN, Amal Mudallali, and garnered the support of more than 180 member states

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Members states of the United Nations agreed on Friday to a political declaration aimed at providing equitable access to the coronavirus vaccines across the world.

The “Political Declaration on Equitable Global Access to COVID-19 Vaccines” was initiated by Lebanon’s Ambassador to the UN, Amal Mudallali, and garnered the support of more than 180 member states.

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“No one is safe until everyone is safe,” was a motto repeatedly heard during the meeting held in New York on Friday.

The initiative aimed to raise awareness of the need to work together to defeat the pandemic while raising awareness of the low availability of vaccines to low and middle-income countries.

“In this regard, we welcome the efforts of countries which have donated COVID19 vaccines and actively encourage further sharing of vaccine doses from all countries in a position to do so, to low- and middle-income countries and other countries in need, particularly through COVAX, including on the basis of the WHO allocation framework, for fair access and equitable allocation of COVID-19 health products,” the declaration read.

Lebanon’s envoy to the UN also secured the support of the P5 members, which includes the United States, United Kingdom, France, China and Russia.

While the supporting members of the declaration praised the scientific community and research that led to the production of several vaccines in record time, they urged countries to work together with a “deeper sense of collaboration.”

And despite initiatives and international agreements, there is an “uneven” distribution of COVID-19 vaccines worldwide. The declaration pledges to treat vaccination efforts as a “global public good” by ensuring equitable access to vaccines for all, “with COVAX being the appropriate mechanism to guarantee it.”

COVAX, an acronym for a global initiative to ensure vaccine access, is led by UNICEF, the World Health Organization and others.

The declaration acknowledged the initiatives undertaken by the G20 since the outbreak of the coronavirus, and it encouraged more collaboration with the UN and the international community to “upscale support and funding for vaccine production and distribution.”

G7 countries were also called upon to highlight vaccine equity and accessibility during the upcoming summit in June.

Stockpiling vaccines was condemned in the declaration, and member states were implored to up their support for COVAX contracts with vaccine producers rather than strictly look at bilateral contracts between nations.

Apart from vaccine production, the declaration also appealed for the implementation of UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’ call for a global ceasefire to facilitate vaccination processes.

Lebanon was singled out and thanked by the countries who spoke during the meeting in New York.

“We pledge continued collaboration to ensure global coordination for equitable and timely allocation of COVID-19 vaccines. The time to go beyond rhetoric is now. The forum to promote cooperation is the United Nations,” the declaration read.

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*This article has been updated to clarify that Lebanon initiated and led negotiations on the declaration. It was drafted by 19 countries.

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