Top officials of the UN have underlined the dangers of nationalism in the response to the global coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
The warnings came at the 31st special session of the UN General Assembly on COVID-19, aimed at galvanising global response to the crisis.
Highlighting the global impact of the pandemic, the speakers specifically echoed the call for a fair and equitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccines worldwide.
Global COVID-19 infections have passed 62 million, including no fewer than 1.5 million deaths.
The pandemic also triggered what the speakers described as the worst economic, social and humanitarian crises worldwide since 1945.
UN Secretary General António Guterres, decried the exclusionary and discriminatory actions by wealthy nations in their response to the crisis.
Guterres said: “For the first time since 1945, the entire world is confronted by a common threat, regardless of nationality, ethnicity or faith.
“But while COVID-19 does not discriminate, our efforts to prevent and contain it do.
“From the start, the World Health Organisation (WHO) provided factual information and scientific guidance that should have been the basis for a coordinated global response.
“Unfortunately, many of these recommendations were not followed. And in some situations, there was a rejection of facts and an ignoring of the guidance.
“And, when countries go in their own direction, the virus goes in every direction,” he said.
The UN Chief said with vaccines likely to be ready within weeks and months, the world must unite to make them available to everyone, everywhere.
While noting that the UN’s ACT Accelerator and its COVAX facility were the path to get there, he called for more contributions to the initiatives.
“There is still a finance gap of 28 billion dollars, including 4.3 billion dollars urgently needed for the next two months,” Guterres said.
Earlier, President of the General Assembly, Amb. Volkan Bozkir, said the world was looking up to the UN for leadership in the fight against the pandemic.
“This is not a time to point fingers. We have convened here to forge a path forward and to end the suffering of the people we serve.
“First, we must start with ensuring fair and equitable access to vaccines.
“Providing everyone with access to COVID-19 vaccines is both the right thing to do and the smart thing to do.
“From a moral standpoint, we have an obligation to leave no one behind and to protect the most vulnerable.
“From a practical standpoint, the value of any vaccine is entirely dependent on how many people can get it,” Bozkir stated.
Present of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), Amb. Munir Akram, underscored the need for a bold global response to the disease in the face of the “monumental crises” caused by it,
While also emphasising the need for equity in vaccine distribution, Akram said “advanced purchase agreements” must not be allowed to “undermine our collective commitments to equity in vaccine distribution”.
“Governments must also commit to transparency in all matters related to the production, distribution and fair pricing of the vaccine,” he said.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that no fewer than 140 world leaders, including President Muhammadu Buhari, are expected to deliver pre-recorded video statements at the two-day meeting.(NAN)