UN votes on vaccine equity resolution: diplomats

Published February 26, 2021, 7:50 AM

by Agence-France-Presse

The UN Security Council was voting Thursday on a resolution on improving the availability of Covid-19 vaccines in conflict-wracked or impoverished countries, diplomats said.

Britain is pushing for a UN Security Council resolution that would demand improved access to vaccines in conflict-wracked or impoverished countries 

The draft obtained by AFP stresses “the urgent need for solidarity, equity, and efficacy” in fighting the pandemic in countries with limited access to vaccines.

The vote, requested by Britain, was being carried out in writing over 24 hours because of pandemic restrictions on council meetings. The result will be known Friday, diplomats said.

Negotiations on the wording of the resolution took a week and were slowed by Russia and China, both of which currently have tense relations with Britain.

Britain, which held a ministerial-level meeting on vaccines at the council on February 17, is hoping for unanimous approval of the resolution, as a sign of the international community moving towards greater unity in fighting the coronavirus pandemic.

The draft text seen by AFP “invites donation of vaccine doses from developed economies and all those in a position to do so to low- and middle-income countries and other countries in need.”

It also “calls for the strengthening of national and multilateral approaches and international cooperation… in order to facilitate equitable and affordable access to Covid-19 vaccines in armed conflict situations, post-conflict situations and complex humanitarian emergencies.”

The UN says some 160 million people live in such conditions.

If passed this will be the council’s second resolution on the pandemic.

The first one, approved in July of last year, called for ceasefires in war zones to facilitate the fight against the pandemic.

Because of tensions between the United States and China, that resolution needed more than three months of back and forth negotiations before it finally won approval.

This new draft urges Secretary General Antonio Guterres to carry out frequent assessments of obstacles to vaccine access.

It also calls on member countries to take measures to prevent speculation in and hoarding of vaccines so as to ensure access to inoculation, especially in conflict zones.

Last week Guterres said the world “urgently needs a global vaccination plan” to stop wealthy countries leaving poorer nations behind in the coronavirus fightback.

“All those with the required power, scientific expertise and production and financial capacities” should join a worldwide vaccine scheme, Guterres told the council.

Guterres said 75 percent of all the vaccine doses administered so far around the world had been in just 10 nations, while 130 countries have had no vaccinations at all.