“Vaccine nationalism is not good, it will not help us,” says WHO chief amid fears of a new wave of COVID-19 infections.
Rabat – Amid the resurgence of COVID-19 cases around the world, the World Health Organization (WHO) is warning richer countries against isolationism and muscular nationalism.
After emerging in China in late 2019, the new coronavirus brought the global economy to its knees in a matter of months.
In the ensuing chaos, countries rushed to close borders and fend for themselves. Each imposed the measures–strict lockdown and mask-wearing, among others–it deemed necessary to protect its citizens and shield its national health sector from succumbing to the virus.
Meanwhile, policies like Trump’s “America First” and perceived signs of fragmentation among EU countries as the virus desolated Spain and Italy fuelled suggestions of a return or triumph of nationalism in the “COVID world.”
With the worrying resurgence of cases around the world in the past weeks, after many countries eased lockdown measures, WHO is increasingly pleading with governments to turn the page on their initial nationalistic impulse to face the virus together. The organization is especially aiming its message at richer countries, in a bid to persuade them that their safety depends on that of citizens of poorer countries.
Speaking via videolink on August 7, as part of the 2020 Aspen Security Forum, WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus urged the world’s advanced economies to act in a way that would help the global community defeat the virus together.
“For the world to recover faster, it has to recover together, because it’s a globalized world: The economies are intertwined. Part of the world or a few countries cannot be a safe haven and recover,” he said. Of the ongoing race for a COVID-19 vaccine, the WHO chief insisted it would hurt the global community if the world’s advanced economies refused to share potential doses with other countries.
“Vaccine nationalism is not good, it will not help us,” he said.
Africa in the spotlight
As the world fears what many are calling a second wave of infections, Africa has so far been unexpectedly resilient. But the dramatic rise of infections in recent weeks has raised new concerns. It has also revived the initial fear that the virus would “smolder” in the continent and cause untold damage.
With Africa surpassing one million cases this week, WHO’s regional director for Africa, Matshidiso Moeti, has called for more aggressive actions from African governments. She has also urged assistance from the continent’s so-called development partners.
“The continent is at a pivotal point…. The virus has spilled out of major cities and spread into distant hinterlands. Countries need to keep apace and urgently decentralize their key response services. We can still stop Covid-19 from reaching full momentum, but the time to act is now,” she stressed.