WHO director-general echoes Pope's call to prevent COVID-19 vaccine nationalism

WHO director-general echoes Pope’s call to prevent COVID-19 vaccine nationalism, ensure universal access to treatment

(Source: MJ/Vatican News)

During the World Health Organization’s media briefing on Covid-19 on Tuesday, WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus spoke about the logistical challenges involved in combatting the pandemic.

In his statement, Tedros noted numerous logistics failures in the initial response to the disease, saying “supply nationalism exacerbated the pandemic and contributed to the total failure of the global supply chain.”

This led to a serious lack of key supplies for dealing with the novel coronavirus in several nations. Even now, he said, “many countries still do not have enough.”

Lessons learned

Tedros said it is imperative to learn from past mistakes.

“While there is a wish amongst leaders to protect their own people first,” he said, “the response to this pandemic has to be collective.”

“This is not charity,” he added.

“We have learned the hard way that the fastest way to end this pandemic and to reopen economies is to start by protecting the highest risk populations everywhere, rather than the entire populations of just some countries.”

Tedros also insisted on the need “to prevent vaccine nationalism.”

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After a vaccine is developed, he said, the WHO recommends first allocating vaccines proportionally “to all participating countries simultaneously, to reduce risk,” and then, in phase two, for consideration to be given “to countries in relation to threat and vulnerability.”

Solidarity for a joint solution

The WHO director said this means “elite planning at the highest levels is needed right now to prepare to vaccinate and treat the world as new technologies come down the pipeline.”

He insisted, “As we accelerate the science, solidarity is needed to provide a joint solution to the pandemic.”

“Like an orchestra,” Tedros said, “we need all instruments to be played in harmony to create music that everyone enjoys.”

He said the WHO “will work to bring the band together, to promote science, solutions and solidarity because we believe to our core that we do it best when we do it together.”

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Pope Francis on the vaccine

A day later, during the weekly Wednesday General Audience, Pope Francis also touched on the need for the Covid-19 vaccine to be accessible to everyone.

In a series dedicated to healing a world dealing with the coronavirus, the Pope said that plans to treat the disease should prioritize “those who are most in need.”

“It would be sad if, for the vaccine for Covid-19, priority were to be given to the richest! It would be sad if this vaccine were to become the property of this nation or another, rather than universal and for all,” Francis warned.


On Novena, the Pope’s new cycle of catecheses on healing the world post-COVID-19:

19/8: General Audience: Francis pleads for cure for “virus” of social injustice, inequality and marginalisation

12/8: In General Audience, Pope implores: “If we do not take care of one another, starting with the least, we cannot heal the world”

5/8: General Audience: Pope calls for “creative and renewed spirit” to “transform roots of our physical, spiritual and social infirmities”

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Mada Jurado

Reporter and community manager at Novena
Progressive Catholic journalist, author and educator. Working on social justice, equality and Church renewal.
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