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Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. on Tuesday reiterated the need for the “universal availability” of a coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) vaccine.

In a speech at the high-level meeting for the 75th anniversary of the United Nations, the Philippines’ top diplomat also urged concerned entities to refrain from using the Covid-19 vaccine as a means to pressure any people, class, or country “to submit to another’s will as the price of the cure.”

“Withholding the vaccine – the most effective means of mass salvation – is a weapon of mass destruction,” Locsin said.

Globally, 31,174,627 confirmed cases of Covid-19, including 962,613 deaths, have been reported to the World Health Organization (WHO).

Based on the latest data from the WHO, 38 candidate vaccines are in evaluation, five of which are in the final stages of clinical trials.

Locsin also underscored the relevance of the United Nations, as well as multilateralism, to maintaining peace and security.

“As the only world forum, the UN is the main and only globally credible platform of opportunities for preempting violence and ending it after it’s broken out; for educating ignorance; curing and containing disease; for ameliorating and in time abolishing poverty, ending injustice and extremism – all enemies of universal values,” he said.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres earlier said the Covid-19 pandemic continues to top a long list of global concerns.

Guterres noted that because the virus “respects no borders,” a vaccine must be seen as “a global public good”, affordable and available to all. (PNA)


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