UN chief makes vaccine push at World Economic Forum amid ‘fragile’ Covid recovery

Antonio Guterres addressed politics and business chiefs at the forum, which is being held online for the second time amid the pandemic

'The last two years have demonstrated a simple but brutal truth — if we leave anyone behind, we leave everyone behind,' said UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres. AFP

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres on Monday warned of a “fragile and uneven” recovery from the coronavirus pandemic and pushed for the vaccination of all the world’s people to help turn the page on the global health emergency.

Addressing a virtual meeting of the World Economic Forum, Mr Guterres said global economic growth was being held back by “persistent labour market challenges, ongoing supply-chain disruptions, rising inflation and looming debt traps”.

“The last two years have demonstrated a simple but brutal truth — if we leave anyone behind, we leave everyone behind,” he said.

“If we fail to vaccinate every person, we give rise to new variants that spread across borders and bring daily life and economies to a grinding halt.”

Wealthy nations and vaccine manufacturers should buoy World Health Organisation efforts to vaccinate 40 per cent of the planet's population by the end of 2021 and 70 per cent by the middle of this year, he said.

“We are nowhere near these targets,” Mr Guterres told the forum's annual gathering of political and corporate power players, which is being held online for the second time due to the pandemic.

“Vaccination rates in high-income countries are, shamefully, seven times higher than in African countries. We need vaccine equity, now,” said the former prime minister of Portugal.

Pharmaceutical firms should “stand in solidarity with developing countries by sharing licences, know-how and technology so we can all find a way out of this pandemic”, added Mr Guterres.

Updated: January 17, 2022, 6:05 PM
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