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UN Chief Urges European Parliament To Support COVID Vaccines For All


The European Union (EU) must use its leverage to
ensure people everywhere have access to COVID-19 vaccines,
UN Secretary-General António Guterres said on
Thursday.

In a wide-ranging multilingual
speech to the European Parliament in Brussels, the UN chief
underscored the need to ramp up vaccinations
globally.

“The pandemic is causing more deaths today
than a year ago. And vaccines are our only way out of this
crisis. They must be considered as a global public good,
available and affordable to all,” he
said.

“Vaccine equity is not only the greatest moral
test of our times. It is also a matter of effectiveness”,
he added.

Vaccine task force

The
Secretary-General reiterated his recent call for an
Emergency Task Force that would mobilize pharmaceutical
companies and key industry players in implementing a plan to
ensure the entire global population is vaccinated by “as
early as possible in 2022.”

Members would include
vaccine-producing countries, as well as nations that could
manufacture these treatments provided they have assistance,
supported by the World Health Organization (WHO); the vaccine
alliance, GAVI, and international financial
institutions.

The Task Force would explore all options
to scale-up vaccine production, such as technology
transfers, patent pooling, sharing intellectual property,
and addressing supply chain bottlenecks.

“And the
European Union must use its leverage as a global actor to
help in this effort and ensure fair and equitable access to
vaccines for all”, he said.

Creating a fairer
world

Fresh from being re-appointed
as UN Secretary-General,
Mr. Guterres told
parliamentarians from the 27 member bloc, that he will use
his second term to foster more effective global cooperation
to address common concerns.

“The pandemic has
revealed our shared fragility, our inter-connectedness, and
the overwhelming need for collective action.Our
biggest challenge — and greatest opportunity — is to use
this crisis as a chance to pivot to a greener, fairer and
more sustainable world,” he said.

With the
pandemic exposing shocking inequalities between developed
and developing countries, he urged governments to consider
imposing a “solidarity tax” or “wealth tax” on those
who profited from the crisis, which would go towards funding
socio-economic recovery.

“But beyond that,
developing countries must have access to additional
liquidity,” he said, speaking in French. “In this
context, I renew my call to support the most vulnerable
people and countries, including, if necessary, through debt
relief.”

Climate action

Addressing the
fragile state of the planet, Mr. Guterres thanked the EU for
showing leadership in achieving net zero carbon emissions by
2050.

More and more countries are joining the drive
for carbon neutrality, and he said their commitments must be
bolstered by clear deadlines for ending fossil fuel
subsidies and finance, and plans to halve emissions by
2030.

Ahead of the COP26 UN climate change conference
this November in Scotland, the Secretary-General urged the
EU to mobilize the $100 billion to support climate action in
developing countries, as promised under the Paris
Agreement
on climate change.

“With many
countries on the frontline of the climate crisis, we have a
moral imperative and a clear economic case for supporting
developing countries to adapt and build resilience to
current and future climate impacts,” he
said.

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