Speaking via video link in London, Secretary General António Guterres said there was no other way to defeat a virus that is spreading in developing countries “like wildfire” and is likely to mutate, other than through fair mass vaccination, adding that vaccines must be “available and affordable to all”.
“It is not only a question of fairness and justice, but it is also a question of efficiency,” he said, stressing that mutations “respect Darwin’s laws of evolution” – which means that the worst viruses tend to survive, multiply and eventually deactivate the vaccine.
So far, immunization programs have been “uneven and very unfair,” said the UN chief.
Reasons to hope
Mr. Guterres said he was encouraged by the announcement made ahead of the G7 by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in collaboration with the World Bank, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the World Trade Organization (WTO), regarding a $ 50 billion program to support immunization in developing countries.
He was also encouraged by recent announcements by the US and UK to donate more than half a billion doses to countries least able to afford them.
Mr Guterres hailed UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s announcement that he expects the G7 to deliver a billion promised doses by the end of the summit.
At war with the virus
“We are at war” with the coronavirus, he said, which continues to cause “enormous suffering” and destroy the global economy.
To defeat the virus, we must “strengthen our weapons”, he added, calling for a “global vaccination plan”.
The Secretary-General referred to his proposal to bring together vaccine-producing countries in an emergency working group supported by WHO, the GAVI vaccine alliance and international financial institutions to define and implement a plan.
“We really need those with the power … to organize an effective response to COVID and the only way to be effective … is to ensure that everyone is vaccinated as soon as possible,” he said. .
G7 climate action
The UN chief said climate action was his other priority for the first face-to-face meeting of the G7 since the start of the pandemic, as the global average temperature continues to rise, almost to the point where the scientific community international says that it is “the limit” to avoid “catastrophic developments”.
“To a certain extent, we are on the brink and… we need to make sure the next step is in the right direction,” he said, calling on the G7 to create a net zero global coalition for 2050; support adaptation for the resilience of populations and societies; and to finance developing countries so that they can target mitigation and address the impacts of climate change that are already affecting them.
Paving the way forward
In conclusion, the Secretary-General expressed the hope that the G7 meeting “will help pave the way for further important decisions in the future”.
“I think it is absolutely essential to ensure that” through the COP26[UN climate conference] in Glasgow, he said, warning that this could prove to be “the last opportunity” to make the right decisions.