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Galvez hits countries ‘hoarding’ vaccines at UN forum

/ 05:01 AM April 19, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. took a swipe at countries “hoarding” the COVID-19 vaccines and blamed them for the vaccine shortfall in middle- and low-income nations.

At a United Nations forum, Galvez, who is the chief implementer of the Philippines’ National Policy against COVID-19, said “rich nations” had managed to secure 80 percent of the total global vaccine supply, leaving the Philippines and other countries “scrambling” for the scarce resources.

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“Hoarding the limited vaccines does not serve anyone’s interests and only hurts everyone and the global response. Similar transgressions run contrary to solidarities reached multilaterally that emphasized the importance of collective action,” Galvez said in a speech delivered online at the UN Economic and Social Council (Ecosoc).

‘We are failing’

Galvez was the country’s delegate to the special ministerial meeting held on Friday in New York City.

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Global leaders and representatives gathered to discuss the “unequal distribution” of vaccines as many countries approached “the highest infection rate observed during the pandemic,” Ecosoc said in a statement.

“Vaccine equity is the challenge of our time. And we are failing,” Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus of the World Health Organization (WHO) said in the statement.

According to the WHO, 82 percent of the 832 million doses administered so far had gone to high- or upper-middle-income countries, while only 0.2 percent had reached poor nations.

Mistakes of the past

In rich countries, one in 4 people had received the shot, while the ratio fell far below in low-income countries at one in every 500 people, the WHO said.

Ghebreyesus said the WHO-co-led COVAX Facility, created to ensure equitable access to the vaccines, had distributed 40 million doses to 100 countries, “but that is nowhere near enough.”

He called on countries with enough vaccines to cover their populations “many times over” to donate to the COVAX Facility and help prevent “mistakes of 40 years ago, when the world was slow to deploy life-saving antiretroviral drugs to poor countries during the HIV/AIDS crisis.”

Galvez said the Philippines remained committed to the UN General Assembly that COVID vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics, which, he added, were “global public goods that must be made accessible and affordable for all.”

“This is the reason … the Philippines has pledged $100,000 to the WHO, as well as to the COVAX … despite the challenges it continues to confront in the implementation of its national vaccine program,” he said.

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TAGS: Carlito Galvez Jr., coronavirus pandemic, coronavirus Philippines, Covax, COVID-19 vaccine hoarders, UN Economic and Social Council
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