Antonio Guterres calls on countries to apply “war logic” to combat the virus that has killed 3.4 million people.
The world is “at war” with COVID-19, says the head of the UN, who calls for the application of the logic of war to unequal access to the weapons needed to fight the pandemic.
Ahead of the opening of the annual assembly of member states of the World Health Organization on Monday, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres denounced the “tsunami of suffering” caused by the coronavirus crisis.
He noted that more than 3.4 million people have died and about 500 million jobs have disappeared since the disease first appeared in China in late 2019.
“The most vulnerable suffer the most, and I’m afraid this is far from over,” said Guterres, who stressed the current dangers of a “two-speed global response.”
“Unfortunately, unless we act now, we face a situation where rich countries vaccinate most of their people and open up their economies, while the virus continues to cause deep suffering by turning and mutating the poorest countries.” he said.
“More ups and downs could cause hundreds of thousands of lives and slow the global economic recovery,” he said, insisting that “COVID-19 cannot be beaten by one country at a time.”
Faced with this serious situation, Guterres urged the recognition of the fact that “we are at war with a virus.”
“We need the logic and urgency of a war economy to increase the capacity of our weapons,” he said.
Last week, the head of the UN called on the G20 to set up a working group to bring together all countries with vaccine production capacity and others that could help boost the manufacture of vaccines and other tools needed to combat them. the COVID-19.
“It should aim to at least double manufacturing capacity by exploring all options, from voluntary licensing and technology transfers to the pooling of patents and the flexibility of intellectual property rights,” he said. to say.
The working group should also address the equitable global distribution of vaccines, treatments and diagnoses.
The WHO and others have created COVAX, a global vaccine-sharing program, but it remains very underfunded and has faced significant supply shortages, delaying efforts to launch lava flows in the poorest countries.
To date, only 0.3 percent of total COVID-19 vaccine doses administered have been given to the world’s poorest countries, where about 10 percent of the world’s population lives.
In addition to fighting COVID-19, Guterres stressed the importance of preparing for the next pandemic, supporting a number of recommendations presented to the assembly for the reform and strengthening of the WHO and the system. world health.
“The world needs political commitment at the highest level to transform the existing system,” he said.
“The WHO must be at the center of preparation for the global pandemic. It needs sustainable and predictable resources and must be fully empowered to do the work required of it.”
Guterres urged member states to decide on a path to follow to “make the bold decisions needed to end this pandemic.”
“COVID-19 should be a turning point.”