Prime Minister Gaston Browne noted that developed countries' reluctance to help other nations hinders the goal of immunizing 70 percent of the world's population by next year.
Addressing the 76th regular session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), Antigua and Barbuda's Prime Minister Gaston Browne supported the calls for COVID-19 vaccines to be considered a global good while demanding affordable prices and fair distribution.
He outlined the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic and climate change while condemning developed nations' selfishness in not sharing their antigen stockpiles.
Browne noted that this reluctance to help other nations not only constitutes "vaccine apartheid", as he described it but also hinders the goal of immunizing 70 percent of the world's population by next year.
"The world would be better off now if high-income countries understood the importance of redistributing these and other health treatments," Browne stressed.
"A majority of the wealthier world is vaccinated while 90% of Africans are still waiting for their first dose.— United Nations (@UN) September 25, 2021
This is an obscenity."
-- @antonioguterres stressed the need for #COVID19 vaccine equity during #UNGA general debate. https://t.co/VYgBz2HMN9 pic.twitter.com/VWkKwbmsCH
Browne also warned that humanity must be prepared for future pandemics, especially in the context of climate change. He pointed out that island nations need official development aid, not loans.
He urged the UN, the World Health Organization (WHO), and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to mobilize resources in order to provide a rapid response to the challenges that arise.
On climate change, Browne emphasized the responsibility of the world's major producers to reduce urgently carbon dioxide emissions.
He proposed that developed nations provide funds for low-income countries and island states to migrate to renewable energies and leave behind their dependence on fossil fuels.