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Covid vaccine nationalism will prolong pandemic: WHO chief

Dubai - Health must be seen not as a cost to be contained, but as a key to sustainable development, he said.


A Staff Reporter

Published: Wed 10 Mar 2021, 6:32 PM

Vaccine nationalism will prolong the pandemic and vaccines must be shared equitably between nations, the World Health Organization chief has said.

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“In combination with proven public health measures, vaccines are now giving us hope for bringing the pandemic under control. But we will only do that if vaccines are shared equitably between nations,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of WHO, while delivering his keynote address on Day two of the virtual World Government Summit (WGS) Dialogues.

"The more opportunity the virus has to spread, the more opportunity it has to change in ways that could make vaccines less effective. Vaccine nationalism will only prolong the pandemic, and the human and economic suffering that goes with it."

Although vaccines will help, he said there are still many challenges. “Health must be seen not as a cost to be contained, but as an investment in productive and resilient populations, and a key to sustainable development.”

Thanking the UAE for hosting the event, he said, “When I spoke at the WGS in 2018, I emphasised the need for investing in universal health coverage and health security as two sides of the same coin to prepare us to meet the pandemics of the future. Well, the future is now. The Covid-19 pandemic has turned our world upside down, and shown why strong, resilient health systems are so important.”

In closing, the WHO chief highlighted his organisation's continued commitment to supporting all countries in building stronger health systems for a safer world.

He said, “Health is not simply a product of strong and prosperous nations — it’s the foundation of social, economic, and political stability.”

The second day of the virtual sessions saw the participation of global leaders, entrepreneurs, representatives of international organisations and experts to discuss emerging global trends and share ideas to enhance the readiness of governments in overcoming future challenges.

Photo: AFP
Photo: AFP

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