Rare show of unity at UN Security Council in support of fair vaccine distribution

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres opened a high-level meeting of the Security Council on Wednesday by strongly criticizing the “wildly uneven and unfair” distribution of COVID-19 vaccinations.

“Just 10 countries have administered 75 per cent of all COVID-19 vaccines,” he said. “Meanwhile, more than 130 countries have not received a single dose. Those affected by conflict and insecurity are at particular risk of being left behind.”

Vaccine equity is “the biggest moral test before the global community,” he added.

Guterres called on the G20, the world’s richest countries, to set up an emergency task force to create a global vaccination plan with input from scientists, vaccine manufacturers, authorities with the power to ensure fair distribution of vaccines, and those who can fund the plan. He said this task force should have the capacity “to mobilize the pharmaceutical companies and key industry and logistics actors.”

The UN chief warned that if the virus is allowed to spread “like wildfire in the Global South” it will continue to mutate into new and potentially more transmissible and deadly variants, which might reduce the effectiveness of vaccines and therapies. This could lead to a resurgence of the virus in the Global North and delay economic recovery, he said.