Greta Thunberg: Vaccine nationalism is “completely unethical”

Greta Thunberg has criticised rich nations, like the UK and US, for vaccinating young and healthy people in their own countries, at expense of vulnerable in poor nations. Speaking at a World Health Organisation press conference. The 18 year-old used the platform to call on the UK and US to reconsider mass vaccination programmes of all citizens, and distribute vaccines to the vulnerable in other less wealthy countries. Ms Thunberg also said she believes Brazil’s president, Jair Bolsonaro, has failed to safeguard humanity in his actions during the pandemic and the fight against climate change. It comes as MsThunberg announced she will donate €100,000 to WHO to be invested into the COVAX programme, to purchase Covid-19 vaccines, as part of the global effort to ensure access of vaccines to the most at-risk in all countries, including health workers, older people and those with underlying conditions.

Video Transcript

DR. TEDROS ADHANOM GHEBREYESUS: Welcome, and you have the floor.

GRETA THUNBERG: Thank you so much for having me. It is an honor to participate in this event. And I will, yeah, I will talk briefly now. Science shows that in the future we will most likely experience more frequent and more devastating pandemics unless we drastically change our ways and the way we treat nature. Today, up to 75% of all emerging diseases come from animals. And as we are cutting down forests and destroying habitats, we are creating the ideal conditions for diseases to spill over from one animal to another and then to us. And we can no longer separate the health crisis from the ecological crisis. And we cannot separate the ecological crisis from the climate crisis. It's all interlinked in many ways.

And during this pandemic, we have seen what we can achieve when we put resources into science. Vaccines were developed in record time. But so far, on average, one in four people in high income countries have received the coronavirus vaccine compared with just one in over 500 in low and middle income countries. In the international community, governments and vaccine developers must step up their game and address the tragedy that is vaccine inequity. When we talk about in countries like, for example, the UK and the US, just as a few examples, that they are mass vaccinating large groups of their populations, even healthy and young people, that we see it from a different perspective. That we don't only see it from our Western privileged point of view, but rather that we think globally, and we need to prioritize those most vulnerable first.