Duterte at UN: ‘Rich nations hoard vaccines’

Addressing the United Nations General Assembly for the last time during his term, President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday accused rich countries of hoarding COVID-19 vaccines while poor countries “wait for trickles.”

Duterte at UN: ‘Rich nations hoard vaccines’

In a recorded message, the President said “there is a man-made drought of vaccines ravaging poor countries” because rich countries hoard COVID-19 shots.

“They now talk of booster shots, while developing countries consider half-doses just to get by,” he told the world leaders.

The disparity, he said, “is shocking beyond belief and must be condemned for what it is — a selfish act that can neither be justified rationally nor morally.”

“The plain fact is this pandemic will not end unless the virus is defeated everywhere. Vaccines are key to achieving this,” he said.

“This is why the Philippines committed $1,000,000 to the US Covax Facility. This is our modest contribution to our collective fight against COVID-19. We strongly urge our privileged partners to fully support the Covax facility and further strengthen other cooperation mechanisms. We need this to save more lives, break the cycle of variants, and help ensure global economic recovery.”

“Only with this can we correct the injustices that doom the downtrodden all over the world to a life of indignity and for the thousands during this pandemic—certain death,” he added.

The Philippines has administered 41,247,552 doses of COVID-19 vaccines nationwide as of Sept. 18, the National Task Force Against Covid-19 (NTF) said.

Based on the National COVID-19 vaccination dashboard data, there are 22,771,602 Filipinos who have received the first dose while 18,475,950 are now fully protected against the dreaded disease.

Globally, more than 6 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered, a tally by the Agence France-Presse shows.

The vaccination drive took 29 days to clock up the sixth billion, almost the same speed as the fourth and fifth billion at 30 and 26 days respectively.

It took around 140 days to get the first billion doses into people’s arms.

Nearly 40 percent (2.18 billion) of the 6 billion shots have been administered in China. India (826.5 million) and the United States (386.8 million) make up the trio of countries that have administered the most jabs.

Among countries with a population of over one million, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) leads the way with 198 doses per 100 habitants and more than 81 percent of the population fully vaccinated.

Uruguay comes next with 175 doses per 100 inhabitants, followed by Israel (171), Cuba (163), Qatar (162) and Portugal (154).

Some of these countries, including Israel, the UAE and Uruguay, have started to give booster jabs with the aim of extending immunity among the fully vaccinated.

While most poorer countries have now started vaccination drives, mainly thanks to the COVAX scheme, coverage remains very unequal, although injections have picked up in recent weeks after donations by richer countries.

High-income countries, as defined by the World Bank, administered an average of 124 doses per 100 inhabitants compared with just four doses per 100 inhabitants in low-income countries.

Three countries are not yet vaccinating at all: Burundi, Eritrea and North Korea.

In his speech, Duterte also called the UN “inadequate” in the face of current global challenges as he urged the world body to reform itself as it leads the world out of many crises.

“We face multiple crises that demand effective global governance. Yet our institutions, including the United Nations, have proven to be inadequate,” Duterte said in his pre-recorded speech.

“The UN no longer reflects the political and economic realities of the world… If the UN is to lead the world out of the many crises we face, things need to change. The UN must empower itself, by reforming itself. Therein lies the hope for humanity,” he said.

The President also said the UN Security Council has violated the tenets of the organization, saying “it is neither democratic nor transparent in its representation and processes.”

“Many member-states have spoken firmly, and we agree. This simply is not right,” Duterte added. With AFP

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