“We cannot defeat a pandemic in an uncoordinated way”, warns the UN chief


Speaking to reporters in New York, António Guterres also called on member states to be “much more ambitious” in their efforts to reach 70% of the population of all countries by mid-2022, a target set by the World Health Organization (WHO).

Within days of the deadline, 98 countries have not been able to meet this end-of-year target and 40 nations have not yet succeeded in vaccinating 10% of their population. In low-income countries, less than 4% of the population is vaccinated.

A “pass” for the variants

“Inequality in immunization gives Variants a pass to run wild – devastating the health of populations and economies around the world,” Guterres said.

Inequality in immunization gives Variants a pass to let loose – devastating the health of populations and economies around the world.
-António Guterres

According to the WHO, vaccination rates in high-income countries are 8 times higher than in African countries. At the current rate, the continent will not reach the 70% threshold before August 2024.

For all these reasons, the Secretary General believes that “Covid-19 is not about to disappear”.

“It is becoming clear that vaccines alone will not eradicate the pandemic,” said the UN chief, adding that “vaccines prevent hospitalization and death for the majority of those who receive them and slow down the propagation ”.

“But the transmissions show no signs of slowing down,” Guterres said, explaining that this situation is “due to the inequality of vaccines, hesitation and complacency.”

A difficult year

At his last press conference of the year in New York, Mr Guterres said the world was “at the end of a difficult year”, where the pandemic still rages on, inequalities continue to widen, the The burden on developing countries is growing and the climate crisis remains unresolved.

“I am deeply worried. If things don’t improve – and quickly – we will face even more difficult times, ”the UN chief warned.

Mr. Guterres also denounced “imbalanced” stimulus efforts, which accelerate inequalities and increase pressures on economies and societies.

In fact, he recalled, advanced economies have mobilized nearly 28% of their gross domestic product for economic recovery. For middle-income countries, this figure fell to 6.5% and it collapsed to 1.8% for least developed countries.

The global financial system “worsens inequalities”

The Secretary-General highlighted projections from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) showing that cumulative economic growth per capita over the next five years in sub-Saharan Africa will be 75% lower than in the rest of the world.

As inflation in the United States hits its highest level in 40 years in and increases elsewhere, Mr. Guterres expects interest rates to rise, putting greater fiscal constraints on countries in need. less developed.

“Defaults will become inevitable for low-income countries which already bear much higher borrowing costs,” he said, adding that “the current global financial system supercharges inequality and instability.”

As a result, inequalities keep growing, social upheaval and polarization keep growing, and the risks keep growing.

For Mr. Guterres, “it is a powder keg which promotes social unrest and instability” and which represents “a clear and present danger for democratic institutions”.

For this reason, he argued, “it is time to clearly assume the need to reform the international financial system”.

UNICEF / Arlette Bashizi

A delivery of doses of vaccines against Covid-19 provided by the COVAX structure is verified in Goma, in the east of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

“Moral failures”

According to the Secretary-General, the response to the pandemic and to the international financial system reveals failures of governance which are also moral failures.

“I am determined that 2022 is the year when we finally tackle the deficits in both systems of governance,” he said.

The Secretary-General is sure the world knows “how to make 2022 a happier and more hopeful new year”, but added that everyone “must do whatever it takes to make this happen”.

Finally, the UN chief referred to his last visit of the year, which will take him this Saturday to Lebanon, a country “which is plagued by all these challenges and even worse”.


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