World leaders should work together to close vaccine gap: Indonesia’s president

President Joko 'Jokowi' Widodo has held several meetings with senior members of the rival Democratic Party and National Mandate Party (PAN) since the April 17 elections, leading to speculation about his efforts to build a supermajority coalition. (Antara Photo/Puspa Perwitasari). Sketched by the Pan Pacific Agency.

JAKARTA, May 22, 2021, ANTARA. Indonesian President Joko Widodo urged world leaders to take concrete steps to address gaps in access to vaccines in order to ensure fair and equitable access for all countries, ANTARA reported.

“I must remind all of us again that we will only truly recover and be safe from COVID-19 if all countries have also recovered. No one is safe until everyone is,” the president noted during a virtual speech at the Global Health Summit on Friday night and accessed via the Presidential Secretariat YouTube channel here on Saturday.

The head of state noted that when some countries started vaccinating low-risk groups, such as children and young people, only 0.3 percent of the global vaccine supply was available to low-income countries.

Widodo noted that the gap had apparently become even more noticeable when 83 percent of the global vaccine supplies were absorbed by rich countries, while the remaining 17 percent went to developing countries that constitute 47 percent of the world’s population.

“Hence, we must take concrete steps. In the short term, we must encourage dose-sharing through the Covax Facility scheme even more. This is a form of solidarity that must be encouraged and multiplied, especially in overcoming supply constraints,” the president affirmed.

In the long term, the global community must be able to double vaccine production to fulfill the global requirement and build health resilience. Such resilience necessitates boosting collective production capacity through technology transfer and investment.

“If the issue of vaccine production and distribution capacity is not addressed immediately, I am afraid that the pandemic will be resolved over time,” he noted.

The head of state remarked that the G-20 member countries must extend support for increased production and equal access to vaccines for all nations. To this end, Indonesia fully supports the TRIPS Waiver proposal calling to temporarily relinquish its obligation to protect intellectual property rights related to the prevention, handling, or treatment of COVID-19.

Indonesia has decided to become one of the countries that supports the proposal. Indonesia also expects other G-20 member countries to provide the same support.

“As the largest vaccine producer in Southeast Asia, Indonesia is ready to become a hub for increasing vaccine production in the region,” the president remarked.

Hence, G-20 countries must also take part in building a solid global health resilience architecture to better face similar threats in future. Hence, global cooperation is a necessity.

Principles outlined in the Rome Declaration are crucial for global health resilience. However, these principles will not be useful if they are not applied in a concrete way. Implementation is the key, and the world can only heal and become stronger if we do it together. Recover together, recover stronger,” he affirmed.

Meanwhile, the Global Health Summit is one of the G-20 meetings under the Italian Presidency for 2021. Attendees at the summit comprised heads of state or heads of G-20 governments, invited countries, as well as leaders of international organizations.

The Global Health Summit resulted in the “Rome Declaration” agreement based on multilateral cooperation and collective action to prevent future global health crises, with a commitment to building a healthier, safer, fair, and sustainable world.

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