Humanist community passes timely resolution urging equitable COVID-19 vaccination process

  • post Type / General news
  • Date / 17 August 2021

Humanists from around the world have together called on the international community to guarantee a transparent, equitable, universal and participatory roll out of the COVID-19 vaccine and to ensure that any distribution of vaccines is based on medical need and public health considerations.

The unanimous call came as part of a resolution passed during the 2021 General Assembly of Humanists International.

The resolution, on “Global Access to Vaccines in Response to COVID-19,” comes in the context of a world which is increasingly divided in terms of those who have had access to a COVID-19 vaccine and those who have not. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), the vast majority of vaccines against COVID-19 have been administered in high- and upper-middle-income countries, mostly in 10 countries alone. The WHO has observed that if these doses had been distributed equitably, there would have been enough to cover all health workers and older people globally.

The resolution arises out of a long tradition of humanists advocating for the application of scientific method and free inquiry to the problems of human welfare, whilst also affirming that any application of science and technology must be tempered by human values.

It also recalls that under international 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 a right to enjoy the benefits of scientific progress.

Amongst its many recommendations, the resolution calls on the international community, States and other relevant stakeholders to:

  • Depoliticize the scientific response to the pandemic, focusing on fact-based and evidence-based policymaking so as to guarantee the right to science;
  • Take immediate steps to prevent speculation, national stockpiling and undue export controls which inhibit the equitable, affordable and universal access for all countries to COVID-19 vaccines;
  • Assist developing countries in promoting the full realization of the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health and the right of everyone to enjoy the benefits of scientific progress and its applications;
  • Ensure that marginalized and vulnerable communities, including refugees and undocumented citizens, are not penalized or left behind in national vaccination plans;
  • Combat denial of science and of COVID-19’s existence, including by ensuring science and public-health education for all in accordance with relevant international standards;
  • Address the marginalization that causes people to turn to conspiracy theories and recognize that being open with information on side-effects, potential risks and effectiveness is essential to rebuilding trust in public bodies and countering misinformation.

The resolution follows Humanists International’s call at the UN for vaccine equitability, delivered by Dr. Sangram Patil earlier this year, as well as its previous calls to reject vaccine nationalism and to promote the ethics of equitable vaccine distribution.

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