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NEW YORK — Wealthy nations "are getting an F in Ethics" due to the uneven distribution of vaccines against the coronavirus pandemic, drawing a sharp rebuke from United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.
"A majority of the wealthier world vaccinated," Guterres told the U.N.General Assembly in a Tuesday address. "Over 90% of Africans still waiting for their first dose. This is a moral indictment of the state of our world."
That reprimand seemed to target Western powers, such as the United States and European countries in particular, where vaccines have been widely available for months. International monitors are slashing their forecasts for the number of vaccines that will be available in Africa by the end of the year. That disparity has contributed to debates about the prudence and justice of approving booster shots in wealthy countries when so much of the developing world remains unvaccinated.
"On the one hand, we see the vaccines developed in record time — a victory of science and human ingenuity," Guterres told the U.N. General Assembly in a Tuesday address. "On the other hand, we see that triumph undone by the tragedy of a lack of political will, selfishness, and mistrust."
Biden made explicit his plan to "ensure Americans are taken care of first" in terms of vaccine access, drawing criticism from observers who heard an echo of former President Donald Trump's much-maligned "America First" approach to foreign policy. And a plan to fund the production of vaccines in India for distribution abroad has faltered due to the emergence of the delta variant, which prompted officials in New Delhi to restrict the export of vaccines.
"Already, the United States has put more than $15 billion toward ... the global COVID response," Biden told the U.N. General Assembly in his own Tuesday address. "We've shipped more than 160 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine to other countries. This includes 130 million doses from our own supply and the first tranches of the half a billion doses of Pfizer vaccine we purchased to donate through COVAX."
International vaccine deliveries to African countries accelerated in August, but the COVAX initiative has revised its projections for total vaccine shipments this year downward — from 620 million vaccine doses for 2021 to 470 million.
"It is an obscenity," Guterres said. "We passed the science test. But we are getting an F in Ethics."
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Original Author: Joel Gehrke
Original Location: UN secretary-general calls out wealthy countries for vaccine ‘selfishness’