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Omicron response must be fair and equitable, says Commonwealth Secretary-General

2 December 2021

Speaking on the latest COVID-19 variant Omicron, the Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland said:

"COVID-19 has shone a harsh light on health inequalities within and between countries. Nowhere is this more evident than in access to vaccines. Although vaccines are a vital lifeline, they remain out of grasp for far too many. The disparity is stark. In low-income countries, the share of people who have received at least one dose of the vaccine is just 5.7%. However, the share in high income countries is 73.6% and it is 75.2% in upper middle-income countries. 

"Whilst the Omicron variant must be taken seriously, responses need to be fair and equitable. Assessment of the virus’ impact must be based on scientific analysis and be cognisant of the potential economic and other damage which can be occasioned by precipitous action. Interventions of proven value must be prioritised which means urgently boosting access to vaccines. Wealthier countries must take the lead, show solidarity and meaningfully address the causes of asymmetries and inequities in vaccine access. 

"Without increased international cooperation to ensure equitable vaccine access for all citizens of the world, the vaccine gap will remain and citizens of the poorest nations will continue to suffer severe illness and needless deaths. Wealthier countries must not allow this. Until everyone is vaccinated, no one is safe."

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