Interview: Expert urges global community to avoid vaccine nationalism, unite for vaccine equity

(Xinhua) 10:39, April 08, 2021

ADDIS ABABA, April 7 (Xinhua) -- The global community should avoid the growing trend of vaccine nationalism and exert concerted efforts to ensure vaccine equity, an Ethiopian expert has said.

"It is very important that vaccines are promoted globally because you can not just stop the virus in any one given country," Costantinos Bt. Costantinos, professor of public policy at the Addis Ababa University in Ethiopia, told Xinhua in a recent interview.

Costantinos, who also served as an economic advisor to the African Union Commission and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), said some Western countries have been hoarding vaccines more than they need, resulting in a growing trend of vaccine nationalism.

The expert argued that vaccine nationalism has created what is now called "vaccine apartheid," where poor countries, including those in Africa, were going to be denied, even if they could buy vaccines.

Noting the huge cost of the COVID-19 pandemic both in terms of human lives and the global economy, the expert emphasized the crucial imperative for countries worldwide to join hands for vaccine equity.

"Ultimately, health is the main determinant of the wellbeing of humanity. Whether you talk about food security or national security issues, unless people are healthy it's not going to make sense," he said.

The expert cited China's positive contribution to the global anti-pandemic fight in making its COVID-19 vaccines a global public good.

"China's role has become very imperative in promoting what the WHO (World Health Organization) has been saying from the beginning that vaccines should be available to all vulnerable people across the world, regardless of their geographical location," the expert said.

The expert further commended China's global anti-pandemic contribution, which he said is not only reflected in providing the vaccines but also the provision of protective equipment for medical workers and communities across the globe since the early days of the outbreak.

"China's aim is basically what the global scientists are talking about -- if we don't control the pandemic globally, we can not control it anywhere," he added.

According to Costantinos, China's decision to make its COVID-19 vaccine a global public good would also promote long-term trust across the world, because the health of the world population can not be guaranteed unless everybody stays healthy.

Costantinos, citing recent accusations among countries over vaccine diplomacy, stressed that the issue of vaccines should not be used to serve political interests, but should rather be a common agenda among world countries to ensure the wellbeing of humanity.

"The Chinese measure is a very thoughtful one that is able to arrest the pandemic globally, while the West is thinking about its influence," Costantinos affirmed.

The expert, while anticipating China to continue its efforts in making COVID-19 vaccines a global public good, further called upon the developed world to work towards the betterment and wellbeing of humanity despite geographical boundaries. 

(Web editor: Shi Xi, Liang Jun)


Related Stories