New York: Highlighting the need to address the issues of access and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines across the world, India on Monday expressed concern regarding the low vaccination levels of the population in countries facing conflict situations.
Speaking at the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) briefing on 'delivery of COVID vaccines in areas of armed conflict - Implementation of UNSC Resolutions 2532 and 2565', India's Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN, R Ravindra said, "Much of the developing world is yet to be vaccinated. The vaccination levels of the population in countries facing conflict situations are even lower."
"While we have made significant progress in developing newer vaccines against COVID-19 as well as in their production, the issues of vaccine equity, access, distribution, and administration remain to be addressed," he added.
Ravindra stressed the need to find ways to ensure last-mile vaccine delivery in areas affected by conflict and post-conflict situations, which are not served adequately by public health infrastructure. He also highlighted the need to ensure that any slackening of other vaccinations is reversed to ensure a sustainable health recovery from the pandemic.
Highlighting India's role in facilitating access to vaccines, he said, "In line with our vision of 'One Earth, One Health', India has been instrumental in saving innumerable lives by providing timely and necessary medicines and vaccines to many countries."
"In order to convert "vaccines into vaccination", countries need robust capabilities in critical sectors including Information Technology tools; cold chain expansion; and training and capacity building of healthcare workers for vaccine administration. India would be happy to partner with other countries to assist in these important areas," he added.
Ravindra also condemned the terrorists taking advantage of the pandemic saying, "While the Security Council has called for "COVID" pause in hostilities, terrorists and other non-state actors have only taken advantage of the pandemic by increasing their nefarious activities."
"For continued supplies of vaccines, we need to ramp up our manufacturing capacities, both qualitatively and quantitatively, and keep the global supply chain for raw materials open and uninterrupted," he added.
He further informed the Security Council that India has been strongly advocating for the principle of equity in the World Health Organisation and has also proposed, along with South Africa, a Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) waiver at the World Trade Organization (WTO) for COVID vaccines, diagnostics, and medicines.
"India stands ready to work with the global community to build adequately funded robust health systems, strengthen preparedness, and ensure equitable access to vaccines," he stated.