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ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan Tuesday said that universal and affordable access to Covid-19 vaccine is essential to defeat the virus and to revive global trade, investment, and growth.

While addressing virtually the UN High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development 2021, the prime minister said that the world is facing an unprecedented triple challenge, the Covid-19 pandemic as well as reversal of economic progress and the existential threat posed by climate change.

The prime minister further stated that Pakistan has been more fortunate than other countries as government policies of “smart lockdowns” and focus on the disadvantaged, have been able to somehow contain the virus.

We managed to save precious lives and at the same time livelihoods, he said.

Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic revealed and accentuated the endemic inequalities which exist within and among nations.

The global economy will not recover fully until all countries – rich and poor – are enabled to accelerate and expand investment for achieving the SDGs and climate goals.

The prime minister said some actions, at the national and international level, are indispensable to respond effectively to the triple crisis with the first one, universal and affordable access to COVID-19 vaccine is essential to defeat the virus and to revive global trade, investment, and growth.

The world must ramp up vaccine production, including in the developing countries, and ensure its rapid distribution.

While the support offered by some major nations acknowledgeable, more needed to be done. Of vital urgency is: (i) the waiver of intellectual property rights, even if temporary; (ii) vaccine production under license; (iii) full funding of the COVAX facility; and provision of grants and concessional lending to enable developing countries to purchase vaccines at fair prices.

Secondly, the prime minister said that adequate finance must be mobilised to enable the developing countries to meet the triple challenge of COVID recovery, SDG implementation, and realisation of environmental goals.

There are synergies in these three challenges, which should be utilised to “build back better.” The high-income countries have been able to inject $17 trillion to stimulate their economies.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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