U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has called for greater equality in the distribution of coronavirus vaccines as statistics emerge of wealthier nations leading the way while poorer nations, especially in Africa, lag behind.
Guterres said more than 70 million COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered so far but less than 20,000 of these were done in Africa.
“A global immunity gap puts everyone at risk. We need a global vaccination campaign that reaches everyone, everywhere,” Guterres tweeted on Sunday.
The U.N. chief also called on all countries to “tackle the fragilities and gaps exposed by the COVID-19 pandemic and strengthen our mutual bonds, based on our common humanity.”
His comments come in the wake of a study which revealed the global economy stood to suffer immense losses due to the inequalities in access to COVID-19 vaccines.
According to a study by the International Chamber of Commerce presented to the World Health Organization (W.H.O.) the global economy is at risk of losing a staggering $9.2 trillion if governments fail to ensure global access to COVID-19 vaccines.
The ICC study said: “Advanced economies have in recent months pursued a policy of securing the global supply of front-runner vaccines, as a result severely limiting their availability in emerging markets.”
However, the Chamber of Commerce’s experts warned this approach would be counter-productive, as wealthier economies would not be able to recover fully if lower-income countries were still bearing the brunt of the economic crisis caused by the pandemic.
The director-general of the World Health Organization (W.H.O.), Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, also repeated his warning against the dangers of “vaccine nationalism,” saying the COVID-19 vaccine situation could result in greater inequality.