Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland has called on G20 members to urgently work with the Commonwealth and other partners, particularly the World Health Organization and World Trade Organization, to urgently put in place a robust plan to vaccinate the world’s 42 smallest states and shield them from COVID-19.
Speaking at the annual Health20 Summit, she said: “As the pandemic unfolded, we were urged to act selflessly to protect the most vulnerable. As some of the more affluent countries of the world start to emerge from the crisis, we must work now to protect the smallest and most vulnerable nations from COVID-19.
“Only 1.4 per cent of the vaccines administered globally having gone to people in low-income countries. I urge the G20 to start work now on protecting the 42 small states of the world, 32 of which are members of the Commonwealth which I have the honour of representing.
“For just two days’ worth of global vaccines, we could fully vaccinate and protect these the smallest and most vulnerable nations among us.”
The Secretary-General added: “The hard truth now is that we face not a race against ‘the’ COVID-19 virus but a race against its variants.
“To allow COVID-19 to run unfettered in those parts of the world, which so far have been unable to protect themselves through vaccination, is to allow the virus to adapt, mutate and create stronger faster deadlier variants that can only doom us all to more and longer suffering.
“There is no quarantine policy, public health programme or vaccination rate that can protect our populations nearly as well as eradicating the virus from all our countries through a concerted and coordinated drive for equitable vaccination.”
The H20 Summit is an annual event that aims to support the G20 Presidency agendas and was launched in 2018.