Commonwealth Health Ministers raise calls for equal access to vaccines across the world

The Commonwealth Health Ministers held their annual health meeting on May 21 and issued a joint statement calling for equal access to COVID-19 vaccines for everyone around the world. 

In the statement on behalf of the 54 Commonwealth member countries, they expressed deep concern over the stark gaps in access and delivery of doses, especially in poor countries, and called for “fair and transparent” pricing for the vaccine. 

Only 0.3 per cent of the life-saving vaccine doses have been administered in 29 poor countries. About 84 per cent of shots have been given in high and upper-middle-income countries. 

Commonwealth Secretary-General Rt Hon Patricia Scotland QC said: “The science is clear: vaccination works and is the clear and only sustainable route out of this pandemic for the whole world. 

“The rise of new variants shows that until everyone is safe no one is safe. No plan to tackle this virus will work until everyone agrees to work together. 

“We must talk with each other to move away from some stockpiling vaccines, while many low-middle income countries still do not have access to the much-needed vaccines supplies for the vulnerable populations in their countries. So, co-operation to develop a global immunisation plan to deliver equal access to vaccines must be a top priority.” 

In his guest address, the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said: “Vaccines are reducing severe disease and death in countries that are fortunate enough to have them in sufficient quantities, and early results suggest that vaccines might also drive down transmission. 

“The shocking global disparity in access to vaccines remains one of the biggest risks to ending the pandemic. We seek the support of the Commonwealth in solving the global vaccine crisis by funding the ACT Accelerator, advocating for greater sharing of technology, know-how and intellectual property, and sharing doses with COVAX.” 

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