UN head warns of 'vaccinationalism' as virus deaths top two million

(FILES) In this file photo taken on February 04, 2020 United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres speaks during a press briefing at United Nations Headquarters in New York City. (Photo: AFP)
  • Agence France-Presse
  • January 16, 2021 2:11 AM

United Nations, United States | UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres on Friday deplored the "heart-wrenching milestone" of the global death toll from Covid-19 topping two million, and lamented the fact that "solidarity is failing" in the world's response to the virus.

"Today we are seeing a vaccine vacuum," the UN head said. "Vaccines are reaching high income countries quickly, while the world's poorest have none at all."

"Science is succeeding — but solidarity is failing," he warned.

Without naming names, Guterres criticized the fact that "some countries are pursuing side deals, even procuring beyond need."

"Governments have a responsibility to protect their populations, but 'vaccinationalism' is self-defeating and will delay a global recovery," he added. "Covid-19 cannot be beaten one country at a time."  

He said priority must be given to those who are "on the front line: humanitarian personnel and populations at high risk." 

At a press conference, the president of the UN General Assembly, Volkan Bozkir, announced that he and Guterres would both be vaccinated very soon. The UN chief will be given the shot next week, and the President of the General Assembly on February 2. 

That is because New York, where the UN headquarters are located, has a public health policy of giving shots to anyone over the age of 65, said Bozkir.

© Agence France-Presse

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