Antonio Guterres said health agency support is “absolutely essential” to tackle COVID-19 pandemic

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has praised the United States’ declared re-engagement with the World Health Organization (WHO), saying the support of the health agency is “absolutely essential” to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.

He said Washington joining the global vaccine initiative will boost efforts to ensure equitable access to vaccines for all countries.

“Supporting the WHO is absolutely essential to the world’s efforts for a more coordinated response to COVID-19,” a statement released by the spokesperson for the UN chief said on Wednesday.

Mr Guterres said the time had come for unity and for the international community to work together in solidarity to stop the virus and its devastating consequences.

“With vaccines being an essential tool in the fight against COVID-19, the US accession and support to the COVAX facility will provide momentum in efforts to ensure equitable access to vaccines for all countries,” indicates the press release.

Angry with the WHO for its handling of the coronavirus, which it had called a “Chinese virus” because of its origin in the Chinese city of Wuhan, Mr. Biden’s predecessor, Donald Trump, had halted funding for the world health agency last year.

His administration had also officially notified the United Nations of its decision to withdraw the United States from the WHO.

The United States has been the largest funder of WHO, contributing more than $ 450 million annually. The United States has been a party to the WHO Constitution since June 21, 1948.

As the world reached a ‘heartbreaking milestone’ of two million COVID-19-related deaths less than a week ago, Mr Guterres lamented that the deadly impact of the pandemic has worsened due to the lack of a coordinated global effort and said that governments’ “vaccinationalism” is “self-destructive” and will delay a global recovery.

Mr Guterres said the UN is helping countries mobilize the largest global immunization effort in history and the world organization is committed to ensuring that vaccines are seen as global public goods – population vaccines.

“This requires full funding for the COVID-19 Tool Accelerator and its COVAX facility – which is dedicated to making vaccines available and affordable to all,” Guterres said.

He stressed that manufacturers must step up their commitment to work with the COVAX facility and countries around the world to ensure sufficient supply and fair distribution.

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