Antonio Guterres called for countries to apply ‘wartime logic’ to fight the virus that has killed 3.4 million people.
The world is “at war” against COVID-19, according to the UN chief, calling for the application of war-time logic to unequal access to the weapons needed to fight the pandemic.
At the opening of the World Health Organization’s annual assembly of member states on Monday, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres condemned the “tsunami of suffering” provoked by the coronavirus crisis.
He pointed out that more than 3.4 million people had died and about 500 million jobs had been lost since China’s first outbreak of the disease in late 2019.
“The weakest are the ones who suffer the most, and I’m afraid it’s not over yet,” Guterres said, citing the ongoing disasters of “a two-speed global response.
“Unfortunately, unless we act now, we face a situation where rich countries are vaccinating most of their people and opening up their economies, while the virus continues to cause severe suffering by circulating and mutating in the poorest countries, ”he said.
“Further spikes and action could kill hundreds of thousands of lives, and slow down the recovery of the world economy,” he said, insisting that “COVID-19 will not hit every country every time. . “
Faced with the severity of this situation, Guterres urged recognition of the fact that “we are fighting a virus”.
“We need the logic and urgency of the war economy, to improve the capacity of our weapons,” he said.
The UN chief last week called on the G20 to provide a task force equal to all countries with vaccine -making capacities etc. to help boost the production of vaccines and other equipment needed. to combat COVID-19.
“It should seek at least double manufacturing capacity by exploring all options, from voluntary licenses and technology transfer to patent collection and flexibility in intellectual property rights. his, “he said.
The task force should also be given equitable worldwide distribution of vaccines, treatments and diagnostics.
WHO and others have created COVAX, a global vaccine distribution program, but it remains short of money and faces supply shortages, delaying efforts to launch jabs of the poorest. nasud.
Today, only 0.3 percent of the total dose of COVID-19 vaccine is administered in the poorest countries, home to nearly 10 percent of the world’s population.
In addition to fighting COVID-19, Guterres stressed the importance of preparing for the next pandemic, supporting many of the recommendations put forward by the assembly for reform and strengthening of the WHO and the world health system.
“The world needs political commitment at the highest level to change the existing system,” he said.
“WHO needs to be the center of global pandemic preparedness. It needs to have sustainable and predictable resources, and it needs to be empowered to do what the job demands.”
Guterres urged member states to choose a way to “take the bold decisions necessary to end this pandemic.”
“COVID-19 should be an important point.”