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UN chief calls on businesses to help ensure vaccine equity

May 28, 2021

United Nations, May 28: UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Thursday called on the world's leading businesses to help ensure vaccine equity.
"The United Nations fully supports companies making a fair return on their investment in research and development, to fund further research and innovation. But I repeat: we are in an unprecedented crisis that requires unprecedented action," he said.
"I commend the many companies that have acknowledged this, by putting people before profits. Now is the time for the private sector to play its full part in ending this global catastrophe," he told a high-level virtual roundtable hosted by the United Nations, the IKEA Foundation, and Purpose.
There are three key ways in which the private sector is making a difference: advocacy, communications, and donation of services and resources, he said.
By leveraging their influence and expertise and convening others, corporations can help mobilize political will for urgent action by governments and vaccine manufacturers.
By using their channels and platforms to share accurate, trusted and life-saving public health information, corporations can counter misinformation, identify and promote solutions, and build positive networks that bring results at the local, national and global levels.
Some companies have found imaginative ways to donate services and resources. Uber, for example, is donating free rides to take people to their vaccination appointments across the United States. Others are helping to manage supply chains for vaccines and treatments, and developing education programs to reach vulnerable groups, he said.
"I encourage all companies, particularly those with global representation, to look beyond headquarters and focus on the most vulnerable countries and communities, from South Asia to sub-Saharan Africa. We need global companies to mobilize on a global scale to beat this pandemic."
He also urged companies to go beyond in-kind donations and consider raising funds for vaccine equality.
There is a large and growing vaccine gap between rich and poor countries. Just 10 countries have administered more than 75 percent of all vaccine doses. In poorer countries, even health workers and people with underlying conditions cannot access them, said Guterres. "This is not only unjust, it's self-defeating and dangerous -- to everyone."
Fast and equitable vaccination is the only way to prevent new and more dangerous variants from emerging and wreaking further havoc -- in rich and poor countries alike. COVID-19 cannot be beaten one country at a time. It can strike back. The world must act with resolution and in solidarity to overcome the virus, he said.
Guterres asked corporations to support COVAX, the world's main vaccine equity mechanism.
"We urgently need to raise 1.6 billion U.S. dollars by June. With that money, COVAX could deliver up to 1.8 billion doses to low- and middle-income countries by the end of this year. This is the game-changer we need to end vaccine inequality, and end the pandemic," he said.
Source: Xinhua