NEW DELHI: Commonwealth health ministers, led by India, have called for swift and equal access to COVID-19 vaccines for everyone around the world.
In a joint statement on Friday on behalf of the 54 Commonwealth member countries, they expressed deep concern over the stark gaps in access and delivery of doses, especially in poor countries, and called for "fair and transparent" pricing for the vaccine.
Only 0.3 per cent of the life-saving vaccine doses have been administered in 29 poor countries. About 84 per cent of shots have been given in high and upper-middle-income countries.
Speaking at the meeting, Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland said: "The science is clear: vaccination works and is the clear and only sustainable route out of this pandemic for the whole world.
"The rise of new variants shows that until everyone is safe no one is safe. No plan to tackle this virus will work until everyone agrees to work together.
"We must talk with each other to move away from some stockpiling vaccines, while many low-middle income countries still do not have access to the much-needed vaccines supplies for the vulnerable populations in their countries. So, cooperation to develop a global immunisation plan to deliver equal access to vaccines must be a top priority."
Health ministers appreciated the global vaccine equity initiative 'COVAX' and encouraged all partners to support government efforts on boosting vaccine confidence and immunisation drives.
Recognising the acute gaps in research and development of new tests, vaccines and therapies in the Commonwealth, they stressed enhanced collaboration with scientists, academics and business leaders. (IANS)