The statement was delivered by Dr. Sangram Patil, who is a UK-based doctor with first-hand experience working on a COVID-19 Intensive Care Unit (ICU).
During the General Debate on human rights situations that require the Council’s attention, Dr. Patil reminded States that, under international human rights law, “every person has a right to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health, which includes access to immunization programmes against major infectious diseases”, and “every person also has a right to enjoy the benefits of scientific progress”.
These rights are being undermined by acts of “vaccine nationalism”, examples of which include “wealthy states stockpiling more doses of the vaccine than they need” and “arranging bilateral deals with pharmaceutical companies”. Vaccine nationalism undercuts the COVAX initiative – a global procurement mechanism leading the effort to fairly distribute COVID-19 vaccines amongst participating States – and threatens herd immunity.
Dr. Patil concluded: “We are a connected world and we all need to be safe for any of us to be safe….The COVID-19 vaccine must be a global public good, and immunisation available to everyone, everywhere.”
On 12 February 2021, Humanists International’s President Andrew Copson released a video-statement in which he reaffirmed the need for international cooperation and solidarity in the context of global vaccine distribution.