United Nations Economic And Social Council (ECOSOC) High-level Meeting On “A Vaccine For All” - 16 April 2021
World needs safe and effective vaccines available
Leaders call for immediate efforts to ensure equitable access to vaccines
New York, 20 April 2021 – As we continue the battle to overcome the COVID-19 pandemic, world leaders were alerted about the deep inequity in access to the COVID-19 vaccines between rich and poor countries and between people at the UN High-level Meeting on vaccine equity. They called for recognizing the vaccine and related technologies as global public goods.
In a Presidential Statement, released today on the key recommendations from the 16 April ECOSOC Special Ministerial Meeting, ECOSOC President Munir Akram underscores that: “The expressed commitment to global solidarity and multilateral cooperation must now be translated into concrete actions, which requires political will, particularly from the rich and advanced countries.”
“We have to take some decisive steps towards universal vaccination in order to end the pandemic, which is a prerequisite for economic recovery,” said Ambassador Akram at the ‘A Vaccine for All’ Meeting. A key message of the meeting was that no one is safe until everyone is safe.
Widespread access to vaccines is starting to become a reality in developed countries, but many months or even years away from access for a majority of the population across the world. Despite the recent endorsement of the Political Declaration on Equitable Global Access to COVID-19 Vaccines, vaccine equity remains a critical issue, with only 0.2% of the vaccinations occurring in low-income countries.
Speakers at the High-level meeting expressed deep concerns about “vaccine nationalism”. Others highlighted some obstacles that hinder developing countries’ access to the vaccine, such as restrictions on exports, intellectual property rights, lack of resources and capacities. Countries with excess stocks were called upon to donate to developing countries. Expanding the production of the vaccine including in developing countries was recognized as part of the solution. At the meeting, many developing countries called for introducing flexibility under the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual PropertyRights (TRIPS). There were also clear asks for the private sector to share know-how and intellectual property with qualified manufacturers, particularly in developing countries.
Participants stressed that the ACT Accelerator and COVAX facility created by the World Health Organisation and several partners to ensure developing countries’ access to the vaccine need to be fully funded.
Africa and other regions are taking steps to advance local vaccine production, building on the success of novel vaccine technologies. Participants noted need to be supported and encouraged.
A clear message from the meeting was also that the response to the pandemic provides an opportunity to strengthen health systems and advance towards universal health coverage. This would help countries be better prepared and become more resilient against future pandemics. It was also underscored that other vaccination and medical conditions must be continued despite the crisis.
The ECOSOC Special Meeting, on “A Vaccine for All”, paves the way for a coordinated global effort to ensure equitable access to the vaccine, based on the principles of solidarity, equity and sharing. It brought leaders together to explore ways to ensure equal access to the vaccine. It discussed ways to bridge the financing gap and to maximize the vaccine supply, affordability, and distribution throughout the world. The Council also discussed how to strengthen countries' capacities, infrastructure and readiness for vaccine distribution and preparedness against other shocks.