Hisham: Tough to tackle pandemic without vaccines

PETALING JAYA: It will be extremely difficult for the world to tackle the Covid-19 pandemic without widespread use of vaccines, more so, with the emergence of new variants, says Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein.

At the First Meeting of the International Forum on Covid-19 Vaccine Cooperation, a virtual event hosted by China, the Senior Minister (Security Cluster) said the arrival of variants of the virus, such as Delta, Delta Plus and Lambda, were worrying.

“Even more worrying is the fact that certain countries have an excess supply of vaccines, while others are struggling with having sufficient supply,” he said at the one-day event hosted by China’s State Councillor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi.

The forum with the theme “Strengthening international cooperation on vaccines, as well as promoting fair and equitable distribution around the world”, was attended by delegates from some 30 parties, including foreign ministers or ministers of relevant countries, the United Nations, international organisations, and representatives of relevant enterprises.

“I would like to stress again, if the world is united in erasing this pandemic as soon as possible, the inequities in vaccine distribution must be handled immediately,” he said.

Hishammuddin presented three possible approaches to make this happen, with the first being increasing global vaccine production while setting aside some “rights” conferred under intellectual property laws or conventions.

“The underlying argument behind this principle is each country should be given the right to manufacturer their vaccines,” he said.

“The second is the streamlining of vaccine certification, especially those given vaccines recognised by WHO, to facilitate things such as cross-border travels.

“The third is working together to eradicate doubts related to the ‘info-demic’ that arise as a result of rapid dissemination of confusing or fake news.”

In his message to the forum, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said while the rapid development of Covid-19 vaccines offered great hope, there was equal urgency for these vaccines to reach everyone as quickly as possible.

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