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Guterres urges global leaders to back UN strategy for vaccine equity as 5m lives lost

UN Secretary-General António Guterres has urged global leaders to back the UN strategy to make vaccine equity a reality by accelerating efforts and ensuring maximum vigilance to defeat the Coronavirus (COVID-19).

Guterres made the call in a statement just as the world passed yet another milestone of five million lives lost to COVID-19.

The UN chief said the “devastating milestone reminded us that we are failing much of the world while wealthy countries are rolling out third doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, only about five per cent of the people in Africa are fully vaccinated.”

“This is a global shame. Five million deaths should also stand as a clear warning: we cannot let our guard down.’’

Guterres said that the world was still seeing more deaths, overcrowded hospitals, and exhausted health workers as well as the risk of new variants spreading and claiming more lives.

At the same time, he noted that other dangerous threats – misinformation, vaccine hoarding, vaccine nationalism, and lack of global solidarity – continue to allow COVID-19 to thrive.

“I urge world leaders to fully support the Global Vaccine Strategy I launched with the World Health Organisation (WHO) in October.

“We need to get vaccines into the arms of 40 per cent of people in all countries by the end of this year, and 70 per cent by mid 2022,” the secretary-general said.

He also called on world leaders to address funding gaps and coordinate their actions for success with all the deserved urgency.

Guterres observed that it would be a mistake to think that the pandemic is over just because restrictions are easing in many places.

“We must also match vaccines with vigilance – including through smart and proven public health measures like masking and social distancing.

“The best way to honour those five million people lost – and support health workers fighting this virus every day – is to make vaccine equity a reality by accelerating our efforts and ensuring maximum vigilance to defeat this virus,” he said.

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