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COVID 19: NO ONE IS SAFE UNTIL EVERYONE IS SAFE- NEW WTO CHIEF NGOZI OKONJO IWEALA WARNS AGAINST VACCINE NATIONALISM

Ngozi Okonjo Iweala, the newly appointed Director-General of the World Trade Organization has warned against “vaccine nationalism” in the fight against the covid 19 pandemic. 


Vaccine nationalism is a word coined to describe an occurrence where governments lobby with pharmaceutical manufacturers to supply their own population with vaccines before other countries

.Countries scrambling to be the first to inoculate their populations will achieve little if others go unvaccinated as a result.


The former Nigerian finance minister and senior World Bank executive who was appointed on Monday as the new WTO chief told Reuters that no one is safe unless everyone is safe. She stated that vaccine nationalism would slow the progress in ending the COVID-19 pandemic and would affect all countries- both rich and poor.

READ ALSO: WTO ANNOUNCES NGOZI OKONJO-IWEALA AS ITS DG


Iweala urged countries to accelerate efforts to lift export restrictions slowing trade in needed medicines and supplies adding that her top priority as the WTO chief is to ensure the organization does more to address the pandemic, saying members should accelerate efforts to lift export restrictions slowing trade in needed medicines and supplies.


“The WTO can contribute so much more to helping stop the pandemic... No one is safe until everyone is safe. Vaccine nationalism at this time just will not pay, because the variants are coming. If other countries are not immunised, it will just be a blowback,” she said. 

“Both on a human health basis, as well as an economic basis, being nationalistic at this time, is very costly to the international community,” she said.

“A very top priority for me would be to make sure that prior to the very important ministerial conference … that we come to solutions as to how the WTO can make vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics accessible in an equitable and affordable fashion to all countries, particularly to poor countries.”

READ ALSO: ZIMBABWE RECEIVES ITS FIRST CONSIGNMENT OF COVID-19 VACCINES


Experts project that the global economy would lose $9 trillion in potential output if poor countries are unable to get their populations vaccinated- A loss that would be bared by both poor and rich countries. 


“Both on a human health basis, as well as an economic basis, being nationalistic at this time, is very costly to the international community,” Iweala said

“A very top priority for me would be to make sure that prior to the very important ministerial conference … that we come to solutions as to how the WTO can make vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics accessible in an equitable and affordable fashion to all countries, particularly to poor countries.”

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