LONDON – A virtual global vaccine summit was held Thursday with participating world leaders calling for international efforts to ensure the availability of COVID-19 vaccines to anyone in need anywhere in the world.
The summit, which gathered leaders from more than 30 countries and global organizations, including the United Nations (UN) and the World Health Organization (WHO), is a much-needed event to promote world unity in dealing with the challenge of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Aimed at raising funds for the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation (GAVI), the summit demonstrated the leaders’ sincere hope that the vaccine should be available as a global public good, rather than a commodity for the purpose of profit.
“A COVID-19 vaccine must be seen as a global public good, a people’s vaccine, which a growing number of world leaders are calling for,” UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said while addressing the summit.
Although no vaccine has yet completed clinical trials in the world today, the world community is racing against the clock to develop one against the coronavirus, with progress achieved in some developed countries and China.
Catching the world off guard, COVID-19 has hit more than 210 countries and regions, with updated global infections surpassing 6.5 million and accumulative deaths over 380,000. The pandemic has constituted the most serious global public health emergency since the end of World War II.
It is a global dream to see an effective vaccine at an early date, but a vaccine itself is not enough. Joint international efforts must be made to make sure its accessibility for everyone everywhere in need.
A country’s public health is assured only when its most vulnerable citizens are taken good care of. Similarly, the globe at large will be safe from a raging pandemic only when the poorest countries are well-equipped against risks of infection.
In his speech at the virtual summit, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said that no country is immune from the virus, and that the health and safety of the various populations are closely connected.
At present, many people are concerned that developed countries leading in the research and development of the vaccine will endeavor to maximize profits on their advantages with no regard for poorer countries. But in the global fight against COVID-19, virus knows no border and vaccines cannot be controlled by a few countries.
Efforts should be made to ensure that COVID-19 vaccines reach everyone in need when they become available. Therefore, any individual in any country, rich or poor, can get access, and no one would be deprived of the chance.
Currently across the world, 20 million children are missing their full complement of vaccines, and one in five has received no vaccine at all, Guterres said at the summit.
The key factor behind the sad fact is that most developing nations lack necessary funds and essential know-how in developing vaccines. Thus amid the rampant pandemic, their plight is even more desperate and the gaps in global vaccine delivery could grow wider.
To narrow the gap, countries must duly recognize the coordinating role of the WHO and fully support the agency with strengthened international cooperation.
The battle against COVID-19 is not over yet. Facing the greatest public health crisis of our generation in the absence of an effective vaccine, the international community must work together toward it.
And global solidarity is also needed to ensure the accessibility for every person, everywhere, when vaccines are ready.