By Islamuddin Sajid
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (AA) – The Pakistani prime minister on Monday expressed concern over poor countries falling far behind in COVID-19 vaccinations whereas the richer states have already begun.
Addressing the 4th UN conference on Trade and Development Intergovernmental Group of Experts on Financing for Development through video link, Imran Khan said developing countries are trapped between recovering from the coronavirus pandemic and meeting their debt servicing obligations.
"COVID-19 vaccines are now being administered in developed countries, but it seems it will take much longer time for the vaccines to fully cover the Global South," he said.
Khan said the novel disease does not discriminate between the rich and the poor, and millions are likely to fall back into poverty in poor countries.
He called for a viable framework for equitable and affordable supply of COVID-19 vaccine to developing countries.
"The coverage of the COVAX facility must be expanded. This would enable the developing countries to spend their precious resources on socio-economic development needs," the prime minister said.
Launched in April 2020, COVAX is led by the World Health Organization. Through investing in the development, purchase and delivery of vaccines, it hopes to supply at least two billion doses to more than 180 countries by the end of 2021.
At least 64 million doses of different COVID-19 vaccines have been administered in 60 countries so far, according to global tracking website Our World in Data.
Pakistan has approved the emergency use of Russia's Sputnik V, and the ones developed by China's Sinopharm, and Oxford-AstraZeneca. However, it is yet to receive any doses yet.
Khan also called for further suspension of debt re-payments for the most stressed countries until the end of the pandemic, and suggested to expand concessional financing through multilateral development banks.
Besides, his five-point agenda includes return of allegedly stolen assets held by corrupt politicians and criminals overseas, and mobilizing $100 billion annually by developed countries for climate action in developing countries.