Equitable access to vaccines is key to fight COVID-19

President Cyril Ramaphosa has once again put the spotlight on the equitable access to COVID-19 life-saving vaccines, as poorer countries continue to battle with obtaining the much-needed jabs.

In his opening remarks during the virtual 13th BRICS Summit on Thursday, President Ramaphosa called on the five emerging countries to safeguard people’s lives and livelihoods through safe, fast and equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines for all. 

“We must also ensure equal access to COVID-19 vaccine, diagnostics, as well as therapeutics because that is the only way in which we can collectively respond to this pandemic that engulfs the world.”

He also urged Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (BRICS) to contribute their fair share to the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator and support the waiver of COVID-19 vaccine patents.

South Africa and India have been leading the race in having intellectual property rights on COVID-19 vaccines waived for developing countries to fast track the access to jabs, now backed by over 100 nations.

“We welcome the decision of our Ministers of Health to operationalise a virtual BRICS Vaccine Research and Development Centre,” he told the members.

In addition, he said BRICS countries should remain steadfast in continuing to support the global economic recovery and enhance the resilience of all public systems.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has had a devastating impact on human life, livelihoods, economies and communities around the world,” he said in his prepared speech.

“As much as we have known sorrow and hardship, we have also known solidarity and cooperation. Our collective response has demonstrated what can be achieved when we work together.”

He believes that BRICS cooperation has been orientated towards concrete responses to the pandemic.

President Ramaphosa has also called on BRICS to be equally bold and determined in seeking reform of the United Nations Security Council to enable Africa to take its rightful place among the collective of nations in this crucial body.

“We are now in the final decade towards meeting the Sustainable Development Goals.”

Brazilian President Jair Bolsanaro, Russian President Vladimir Putin, and Chinese President Xi Jinping also attended the meeting, while Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi chaired the summit for the second time.

President Ramaphosa encouraged member States to remain focused on the attainment of better health outcomes, as they also pursue quality education, decent work, climate action, peace and justice.

“Lastly, we must strengthen our cooperation, deepen our partnership and actively strive towards a world of better health, better opportunity and shared prosperity for all.”

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Modi thanked all the members for their full cooperation during its Chairship of BRICS. – SAnews.gov.za

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