Jakarta: The only way to fight the covid-19 crisis is to make affordable vaccines available to everyone, independent United Nations (UN) human rights experts said on Monday.
"In our capacity as UN human rights experts, we emphasise that a global pandemic of this scale and human cost, with no clear end in sight, requires a concerted, principled and courageous response," said the UN human rights experts in a statement on Monday.
"There is no room for nationalism or profitability in decision-making about access to vaccines, essential tests and treatments, and all other medical goods, services and supplies that are at the heart of the right to the highest attainable standard of health for all," they stated.
To date, there have been more than 49 million confirmed cases of covid-19 and over 1.2 million deaths reported to WHO. This disease continues to prove more deadly than anticipated while the world carries on facing the cumulative and interconnected health, economic, social and human rights crises it has unleashed.
In October 2020, the World Bank estimated that the pandemic will push an additional of between 88 to 115 million people into extreme poverty this year, with the total rising to as many as 150 million by 2021. The World Food Programme projected that 265 million people will face crisis levels of hunger unless direct action is taken, doubling their estimations of hungry people pre-covid-19.
These and many other figures offer only a glimpse of the exorbitant human costs of the pandemic. At the national and international levels, covid-19 has brought to the fore systemic inequalities, aggravated pre-existing institutional weaknesses including in health, food and procurement systems, and highlighted a lack of access to quality, accessible and affordable health care for all. Socio-economic inequality has deepened even further.
At a global level, inequalities are also increasing between countries with enough economic means to face the crises and those without. Responses to the pandemic have sometimes been used as a pretext by Governments and business enterprises to undermine or lessen international human rights commitments.
"Unfortunately, it appears that some Governments have undertaken to secure vaccines for their citizens only. Isolationist health policies and procurement are in contradiction with international human rights standards," they stated.
"In addition, epidemiologists and others fear that, because of the limited capacity of production of the vaccine, countries that are striking deals to secure vaccines for their own population – instead of engaging in a coordinated global effort to share them across borders– will not achieve their intended purpose. The pandemic will continue and will come back to impact those countries sooner or later, including through further economic disruption. A message, often repeated in 2020, remains essential: No one is secure until all of us are secure," they stated.