KT edit: Alliance against Covid-19 is a small but significant step to fight the disease

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Now is the time to discuss post-Covid plans to ensure that it is not just the wealthy and resourceful nations that will have access to treatments but all

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Published: Sun 26 Apr 2020, 1:13 PM

Last updated: Sun 26 Apr 2020, 3:16 PM

On Friday the World Health Organization (WHO) organised a virtual conference that brought together countries and organisations who pledged to distribute Covid-19 vaccines and drugs, when they are developed, to countries fairly. It was a small but significant step in the battle against the coronavirus that has swept the world and has now claimed around 200,000 lives. The situation is still grim, the worst may be over, or is yet to come, but the US, the new ground zero of the virus with more than 50,000 deaths, and China, where the pathogen first emerged, were conspicuous by their absence. There were no representatives from the two superpowers whose support in terms of funding and research could make a world of difference to such collective efforts. Europe was represented at the conference as the alliance pledged to provide access to new treatments, share research and data on the disease, technologies, and vaccines across the world. There will be no discrimination, and help would reach countries that need support, especially Africa and other poor nations that might not be able to weather the disruption caused by the pandemic. Solidarity is the need of the hour, and Europe is taking the initiative forward, which is positive in itself. But without the US and China, and with the WHO caught in the middle, how much this alliance can achieve is anybody's guess.
The British medical journal, The Lancet, has rightly pointed that this crisis is the biggest science policy failure in a generation. It is the sign of the times we live in where debates are largely focused on the demerits of globalisation, and nationalist agendas are at the centrestage in politics. There is little faith in coalitions and cooperation. Europe stands apart in this scenario, and with the WHO, is willing to offer an equitable plan that is worthy of support from all corners. The coronavirus pandemic is the worst health emergency we have seen in a century, and it is imperative that all countries join this alliance to ensure every person on earth gets access to drugs and vaccines. Yes, the daily death toll is slowing. The positive news is the number of fatalities has fallen for three consecutive days, and countries are beginning to ease movement restrictions and lockdowns. The WHO has already warned governments against allowing people who show antibodies for the coronavirus to return to work. There are no 'immunity passports' for this disease. Until a vaccine is discovered, countries cannot afford to lower their guard. However, now is the time to discuss post-Covid plans to ensure that it is not just the wealthy and resourceful nations that will have access to treatments. The sooner other countries join this alliance, the better it will be for the health of humanity.

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