Locsin makes a pitch for universal availability of COVID-19 vaccine

Withholding the COVID-19 (coronavirus disease 2019) vaccine — the most effective means of mass salvation — is a weapon of mass destruction, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. said on Tuesday. 

Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. (PCOO / MANILA BULLETIN)

Locsin made this point in a speech during the virtual High-Level Meeting commemorating the 75th United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) meeting where he raised concerns about making the universal accessibility to potential COVID vaccines without preconditions.

“You know decency when you see it; it is indecent when you don’t. A case soon to be made in point will be the universal availability of COVID vaccines without requiring any people, class or country to submit to another’s will as the price of cure,” the country’s top diplomat said.

He noted that the UN, being the only globally credible platform, remains the essential organization as the world is grappling to fight the pandemic. 

While Locsin renewed the country’s commitment to the multilateral body, he, however, cautioned that multilateralism "cannot be owned by select member states, let alone one.” 

“It is by and for all — or no one. COVID-19 reminds us of humanity's common fate, the perishability of life, progress and social order, and of the imperative of coordinated international action even in concerns we’d always regarded as too small to bother the world with. The virus is tiny,” he said.

Moreover, the foreign affairs chief pointed out that the UN is the “core of the present multilateral global order and must stay that way.”

“As long as the UN exists, none can trumpet the end of multilateralism. But it must be a UN strengthened in its every member; so that together they can achieve peace, democracy and prosperity in a world where every state is accountable for the consequences of its action or inaction; where any of “we, the peoples...” can put up a credible fight long enough to make our case for UN help,” Locsin said.

Last week, President Duterte vowed to prioritize procuring COVID-19 vaccine from Russia or China, while criticizing pharmaceutical firms of western nations for reportedly asking for advance payment for their offers.