The United Nations has launched a global campaign tagged “Only Together” to support its quest for fair and equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines worldwide.
UN Secretary-General, António Guterres, launched the programme on Thursday, coinciding with the anniversary of the pandemic.
The campaign underscores the need for coordinated global action to make the vaccines accessible in all countries, starting with healthcare workers and the most vulnerable.
It is part of the broader “Verified” initiative launched in May, 2020, to tackle misinformation around the pandemic, and promote “fact-based advice and stories from the best of humanity”.
In a video message to launch the campaign, Guterres stated that the disease had caused a “tidal wave of suffering” around the world.
According to him, the virus has killed no fewer than 2.5 million people and left millions more with “debilitating long-term health effects”.
“Now, with the promise of vaccines, we can see light at the end of the tunnel. Scientists worked wonders, developing safe and effective vaccines in record time.
“We now have the tool to stop COVID-19 in its tracks. But so far, a small number of rich countries are rolling out a majority of the doses.
“COVID-19 vaccines must be considered a global public good. No country can overcome this crisis in isolation,” he said.
The UN chief urged governments and businesses to share doses and technology to accelerate supply and distribution worldwide.
COVAX, the global vaccine initiative, is the best way to do just that, Guterres pointed out, adding that only through global solidarity would the virus be defeated.
In her message, UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed said “an unprecedented global scientific effort for vaccines” had given the world to defeat the virus
Mohammed stressed that new momentum and hope would emerge only if countries worked together to ensure everyone, everywhere had access to COVID-19 vaccines.
“Only together can we end the pandemic and transform a new era of hope,” she said.
COVAX, the UN-led global vaccine equity tool, is aiming to provide vaccines to about a third of each participating country’s population by the end of 2021, according to the U.N.
“But that progress pales in comparison to the 10 richest countries who possess nearly 80 per cent is aiming of all COVID-19 vaccines,” it said.
The organisation said COVAX still needed more than $2 billion (N776 billion) to fully meet its goal to vaccinate those most in need by the end of the year.