By Theresa Goodwin
Prime Minister Gaston Browne continues to lament the lack of a global response or vaccination program to end the Covid-19 pandemic, noting that if developed countries had acted in a manner that allowed for proper access to vaccines and medical supplies since the start of the pandemic, the entire world would be in a better place at this time.
Developing countries were not seeking handouts. Many of our countries paid into a global system that promised early access to vaccines. But it could not deliver because the majority of the vaccines from the major pharmaceutical companies had been bought or contracted and hoarded by a few wealthy nations, leaving the rest of the world bereft of the means to save their people,” Browne said on Saturday in a recorded message to the 76th session of the UN General Assembly.
“This selfish nationalism forced most nations to rely on vaccine charity which, in itself, has not solved the problem of large numbers of people remaining unvaccinated throughout the world. No country wanted charity; no country wanted to beg for vaccines that should be a global good accessible to all. We were ready to pay,” Browne added.
Browne also condemned the actions of some countries which are reportedly not recognizing vaccines administered in Caribbean countries and have instead forced regional travelers who are fully vaccinated to quarantine.
The Antigua leader said governments cannot urge people to get inoculated on the basis that the best vaccine is the available vaccine, and yet discriminate against vaccines that were not manufactured directly in North America and Europe.
“This would not only be a form of vaccine apartheid; it would defeat the objective of inoculating seventy percent of the world’s people by this time next year. This discrimination must cease now before it becomes a norm by some developed countries. It is wrong; unjust, and patently unfair,” Browne said.