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COVID-19: "immunity is not the privilege of the few but the right of all"

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Author: Denis McClean

The UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Disaster Risk Reduction, Mami Mizutori, today called for increased support to developing countries struggling to manage the COVID-19 pandemic which has claimed two million lives over the last twelve months.

In a statement released today, Ms. Mizutori said:

“My thoughts are with all those who have lost a loved one in this year of pain and struggle. The loss of life from this pandemic is the equivalent of eight Indian Ocean tsunamis but support for the countries most exposed is, sadly, not as forthcoming in the generous way that we saw after the Indian Ocean tsunami which killed some 228,000 people of many different nationalities.

“The money raised in response to the Indian Ocean tsunami was US$6.25 billion to help 14 countries affected. Today we are challenged to raise the US$4 billion which WHO is requesting for the COVAX initiative to secure vaccines for low and middle-income countries. Further support is needed to strengthen public health systems in these countries to prepare for future epidemics and pandemics.

“It is a troubling situation that 95% of the vaccines that have been administered so far have been used in just ten countries. The roll-out must start somewhere but low and middle-income countries with large exposed populations are being overlooked. I urge the international community to fund the COVAX initiative without delay so that immunity is not the privilege of the few but the right of all.”