UNITED NATIONS — The United Nations on Thursday launched a new global campaign, Only Together, to support its call for fair and equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines around the world.
The campaign stresses the need for coordinated global action to ensure vaccines are accessible in all countries, starting with health-care workers and the most vulnerable.
“Only together can we protect healthcare workers and the world’s most vulnerable people,” UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said in his video remarks on the virtual launch of the campaign.
Noting that with the promise of vaccines, the international community sees “light at the end of the tunnel.”
He said that scientists worked wonders, developing safe and effective vaccines in record time.
“We now have the tool to stop COVID-19 in its tracks,” Guterres added.
“But so far, a small number of rich countries are rolling out a majority of the doses,” the secretary-general warned.
“COVID-19 vaccines must be considered a global public good,” he said, reiterating his long-held position. “No country can overcome this crisis in isolation.”
“Over the past year, we’ve all missed out on doing the things we love to do with others — eating, hugging, and going to school and work,” said UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina J. Mohammed.
“Millions of us have lost someone we love or had our livelihoods taken away. An unprecedented global scientific effort for vaccines has given us hope to defeat the virus — but only if we work together to ensure everyone, everywhere has access to COVID-19 vaccines. Only together can we end the pandemic and transform a new era of hope.”
More than 2.5 million people around the world have died from COVID-19, according to the World Health Organization.
The biggest vaccine rollout in history is now underway with millions of doses being delivered around the world, including to some of the world’s poorest countries, through the efforts of COVAX, the global vaccine equity mechanism.
But these doses will initially only cover a small segment of the populations — healthcare workers and the most vulnerable. By the end of 2021, COVAX aims to offer vaccines to nearly 30 percent of each participating country’s population.
COVAX, which is led by the World Health Organization, GAVI and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, and in partnership with the UN Children’s Fund, has 190 participating countries. It needs more than 2 billion U.S. dollars to fully meet its goal to vaccinate those most in need by the end of the year.
“If the world’s scientists were able to develop safe and effective vaccines in just seven months, the aims of world’s leaders must be equally record-breaking — to provide enough funding and to ramp up manufacturing to enable everyone on earth to be vaccinated,” said UN Undersecretary-General for Global Communications Melissa Fleming.