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S. African president calls for equal vaccine distribution

Xinhua | Updated: 2021-09-24 11:02
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South Africa's President Matamela Cyril Ramaphosa speaks on screen during the 76th session of the United Nations General Assembly at the UN headquarters in New York, US, Sept 23, 2021. [Photo/Agencies]

JOHANNESBURG - South African President Cyril Ramaphosa on Thursday lamented the wide disparity in COVID-19 vaccine access across the world and reiterated his calls for equitable vaccine distribution to curb the virus globally.

While solidarity and multilateralism ensured that countries assisted one another with medical equipment during the virus outbreak last year, the lack of cooperation in the fair distribution and accessibility of vaccines has been disappointing, Ramaphosa said when addressing the 76th session of the UN General Assembly virtually.

"It is an indictment on humanity that more than 82 percent of the world's vaccine doses have been acquired by wealthy countries, while less than 1 percent has gone to low-income countries," he said.

He noted that equal access to vaccines for all nations is the only way to contain the spread of the mutating virus.

Ramaphosa also voiced his support for plans to waive COVID-19 vaccine patents at the UN meeting.

"We urge all member states to support the proposal for a temporary waiver of certain provisions of the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights at the World Trade Organization to allow more countries, particularly low- and middle-income countries, to produce COVID-19 vaccines," he said.

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