UN chief deplores multilateral failures to fight virus
Published: Apr 13, 2021 05:53 PM
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres gave a stern assessment Monday of the international community's failure to mount a coordinated response to the COVID-19 pandemic, saying multilateralism is falling short both on vaccines and economic rescue measures.

"Advancing an equitable global response and recovery from the pandemic is putting multilateralism to the test," Guterres said in a speech to the global body's Financing for Development Forum. "So far, it is a test we have failed."

As an example of the grim picture, the Portuguese national pointed out how just 10 countries are receiving approximately 75 percent of the world's available vaccines.

"Many countries have yet to start vaccinating their healthcare workers and most vulnerable citizens," Guterres said.

"A global vaccine gap threatens everyone's health and wellbeing," he added. "We need equitable access to vaccines for everyone, everywhere."

A similar "lack of solidarity" on the economic recovery front means massive disparities between countries as they battle against the pandemic, Guterres said. 

While some nations have mobilized multitrillion dollar relief packages, many developing states face "insurmountable debt burdens that will put the [UN's Sustainable Development Goals] completely out of reach if not corrected," Guterres said.

Even in 2019 prior to the pandemic, 25 countries were spending more on debt service than on education, health, and social services combined, the UN chief said.

"Development assistance is needed more than ever, and I urge donors and international institutions to step up," he said. 
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