Sarah Al Amiri, the UAE Minister of State for Advanced Technology, on Monday said the coronavirus pandemic was “far from over” and called for faster action in getting vaccines to poor and war-torn countries.
Ms Al Amiri told the UN Security Council that only about a tenth of people in strife-ridden nations had received Covid-19 vaccines, and in some hotspots less than 1 per cent of the population had been inoculated.
“New waves, coupled with new variants, are evidence that no one is safe until everyone is safe,” she said at talks co-hosted by the UAE, Britain and France
Diplomats warned of coronavirus outbreaks and the lack of vaccine deliveries to such hotspots as Yemen and Ukraine, where a Russian invasion has forced millions of people to flee their homes.
“The pandemic’s lasting security legacy will likely be the worsening of the root causes of these challenges globally, and a solution is necessary to avoid far-reaching ripple effects from this pandemic,” Ms Al Amiri said.
Women and girls are “still bearing the brunt” of the pandemic and the “fair and equitable distribution of vaccines is both a strategic investment and a moral obligation”, she said in New York.
The UN’s World Health Organisation on Monday warned that 20 mostly African countries have still not vaccinated even 10 per cent of their population against Covid-19.
“These are countries that are working really hard to advance their programmes,” said Kate O’Brien, the WHO's vaccines chief.
“Supply is no longer the issue. The legacy of all the supply constraint from 2021 is still being felt."
The Covax scheme, created to ensure the world’s poorest 92 countries had access to Covid-19 shots, has so far shipped 1.42 billion vaccine doses to 145 territories, the UN said.
The scheme has enough supply available for all those countries to achieve the WHO's 70 per cent coverage target by June, the agency's experts said.
So far, the WHO has authorised eight Covid-19 vaccines and versions of them made by Pfizer-BioNTech, Oxford-AstraZeneca, Janssen, Moderna, Sinovac, Sinopharm, Bharat Biotech and Novavax.