Every rich and powerful nation is vaccinating their own people ignoring poor nations and thus causing more deaths

On September 16, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said that as the coronavirus that causes Covid-19 respects no borders, vaccines must be seen as a global public good, affordable and available to all.

Little over two months later on December 18, he told the German Parliament that vaccines for Covid-19 belong to the people.

United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet said on December 9 that States need to distribute these vaccines equitably all over the world. She tagged the availability of the vaccines to everyone with universal human rights.

On November 9, UN human rights experts issued a statement saying that universal access to vaccines is essential for prevention and containment of Covid-19 around the world.

Unfortunately, it appears that some Governments have undertaken to secure vaccines for their citizens only, they said, adding that isolationist health policies and procurement are in contradiction with international human rights standards.  

Many others and rights bodies have joined the hierarchies of the UN calling for ensuring universal access to vaccines. They also voiced their opposition to stockpiling vaccines that would cause loss of lives in poor countries.

But, almost all the rich and powerful countries did not pay any heed to these calls. Without ignoring the minimal need of the poor nations, they have already rolled out vaccines for their people. That is not all. These rich and powerful nations harbored vaccines that runs counter to the notion — help each other. 

Based on their attitude, one can be forgiven to conclude that the rich and powerful countries will not allow the poor nations to have vaccines until their requirements are completely met. This simply means more deaths due to the apparent refusal of these countries to undertake an equitable distribution approach.

Now, the questions are: Is this approach in line with the fulfillment of the international human rights obligations? Does it reflects multilateralism something the developed and powerful countries preach? The answer is a big no. One must practice what he or she preaches. Otherwise, the concept of multilateralism will take a big hit, affecting other geopolitical aspects.

It is an undeniable fact that every country wants to ensure the health of its own people first. But, in a globalized world, one has to think about the others. What the vaccine-rolling countries can do now is to vaccinate their most vulnerable people and help the poor nations vaccinate at least their front line workers to fight the deadly disease. And, when more vaccines will be available, it will have to be ensured that money does not become an obstacle to procuring necessary amount of vaccines.

It is quite certain that it is not too much to ask.


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