Over 100 world leaders, including Nobel Peace Prize laureates, politicians, artists, and rights activists, have signed a letter calling on the international community to declare COVID-19 vaccines as a “global common good”. The Dhaka-based Yunus Center, founded by the Nobel Peace Prize winner Mohammad Yunus, said in a statement that COVID-19 vaccines should be produced and distributed across the globe for free.
“We appeal to governments, foundations, philanthropists and social businesses to come forward to produce and/or distribute the vaccines all over the world for free,” the letter read.
The signatories include Kailash Satyarthi, Muhammad Yunus, Desmond Tutu, Mikhail Gorbachev, Malala Yousafzai, Ratan Tata, Azim Premji, Shabana Azmi, Sharon Stone, and George Clooney among others. They have invited all social, political, and health entities to re-affirm collective responsibility for the protection of all vulnerable persons without any discrimination whatsoever.
The global leaders in various fields pleaded to UN Secretary-General, Director-General of the World Health Organisation, religious leaders, social and moral leaders, leaders of research laboratories and pharmaceutical companies and the media to join hands for a global consensus on declaring the vaccine as a global common good.
“A pandemic clearly exposes the strength and weaknesses of healthcare systems in every country and highlights the obstacles and inequities in gaining access to healthcare. The effectiveness of the upcoming vaccination campaign will depend on its universality,” they emphasised.
Earlier this month, United Nations chief Antonio Guterres backed the development of “people’s vaccine” for COVID-19 which will be available to everyone across the globe. Addressing a virtual summit on June 4, the UN Secretary-General had said that merely developing a vaccine is not enough as we need global solidarity to ensure that every person has access to it.
At the Global Vaccine Summit 2020, the UN chief called vaccine the most important public health intervention in history which save millions of lives every year. He added diseases know no borders so it is important to ensure that COVID-19 vaccine, whenever available, reaches to everyone.
“A COVID-19 vaccine must be seen as a global public good and a people's vaccine which a growing number of world leaders are calling for,” said Guterres.