World leaders have called for the building of a “global community of health for all” to ameliorate the impact of COVID-19 pandemic.
The world leaders disclosed this at the first meeting of the International Forum on COVID-19 Vaccine Cooperation held recently to highlight the need to make vaccines a global public good, ensure fair and equitable distribution of vaccines, and increase the vaccine production capacity of developing countries.
Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister, Wang Yi, chaired the meeting held via video link under the theme of “strengthening international cooperation on vaccines, promoting fair and equitable distribution of vaccines around the world.”
The International Forum on COVID-19 Vaccine Cooperation was launched by Argentina, Brazil, Chile, China, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, Hungary, Indonesia, Kenya, Malaysia, Mexico, Morocco, Pakistan, the Philippines, Serbia, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, and Uzbekistan.
Speaking during the meeting Wang Yi said, “In the battle, vaccines are of vital importance. They should be distributed around the world fairly and equitably with no country and no one left behind. They should truly serve as people’s vaccines. This is essential for defeating the virus. It is also a matter of international justice.”
Chinese State Councilor and Foreign minister revealed that China has been providing vaccines to countries in need since September 2020.
He said that his country has donated vaccines to over 100 countries and is exporting vaccines to over 60 countries, with a total of over 770 million doses, ranking first in the world.
At present, four Chinese vaccines have been approved for use in over 100 countries and international authorities have recognized their safety and effectiveness, the Chinese foreign minister said.
Wang Yi, informed the Forum, the role China has played and will continue to play in building capacity in various regions that will eradicate the pandemic. In his words, “China acted quickly to work with other developing countries on vaccine production. The UAE, Egypt, Indonesia, and Brazil have become the first country in their respective region to have COVID vaccine production capacity. Together, we have created another success story of developing countries seeking strength through solidarity. China has also provided vaccines to COVAX, UN peacekeepers and the International Olympic Committee.”
The Belt and Road Initiative as we have known that it is a global initiative on international Cooperation recently extend its tentacles to the COVID-19. Wang Yi said, “Most recently, China launched an Initiative for Belt and Road Partnership on COVID-19 Vaccines Cooperation. We welcome the participation of more countries.” He calls on world leaders to tap into the opportunity to ensure COVID-19 vaccines become available to all.
A joint communique at the end of the meeting reads in part, “We recognize that solidarity and cooperation are key to fighting against the COVID-19 pandemic, a challenge confronting all countries in the world. We must champion the vision of building a global community of health for all, put people and their lives first and make concerted and coordinated efforts to address the challenge.
“We recognize the importance of COVID-19 vaccination as a global public good, and call upon all parties to step up efforts to make vaccines more accessible and affordable in developing countries, including making utmost efforts to provide vaccines for developing countries, LDCs in particular.
“We call upon all countries, in cooperation with the relevant stakeholders, to increase national, regional and global capacities, carry out vaccine research and development as well as production in line with strict standards according to the World Health Organization (WHO) regulations, and provide safe, effective and high-quality COVID-19 vaccines.
“We support the WHO in promoting access to COVID-19 vaccines through the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator and its COVAX Facility, encourage capable vaccine-producing countries to provide more vaccines to COVAX, and call upon multilateral financial institutions and other international organizations to provide inclusive financial support for vaccine procurement and for strengthening production capabilities in developing countries.”
The communique underlined the importance of vaccine multilateralism and call upon countries to enhance international cooperation mechanisms and collaboration, reject vaccine nationalism, lift export restrictions on relevant vaccines and raw materials, support enhanced cooperation on vaccine research and development, production, equitable distribution and ensure cross-border flows of vaccines.
The leaders called upon countries to encourage the ongoing consideration on possible waiver of intellectual property rights for COVID-19 vaccines at the World Trade Organization.
They stressed the need for flexibility, pragmatism, and a sense of urgency. We encourage countries to further strengthen international cooperation on vaccine production capacity by conducting joint research and development, authorized production and technology transfers, and continue to adopt concrete measures to raise the vaccine production capacity of developing countries.
“We emphasize the scientific nature and importance of World Health Organization Emergency Use List, and call on governments, while conducting study on easing national entry regulations for the vaccinated, to follow the principle of fairness, equity, science and non-discrimination, respect the suggestions proposed by the WHO based on this principle, and strengthen communication and coordination on vaccine certification and regulation policies.
“We hear the report by the representatives of the vaccine companies and welcome their cooperation outcomes achieved. We are determined to take further joint actions to engage companies and all stakeholders and support their participation in international cooperation efforts on increasing vaccine production and distribution, jointly promote fair, affordable, timely, universal and equitable distribution and strengthen local production of vaccines around the world, and welcome more partners to come aboard, including through transfer,” the communique added.