The COVID-19 pandemic, which has been the first and global catastrophe that mankind faced since the Second World War, has been going on for more than a year and raises a number of issues before the world and international organizations. Among these calls is the invention of effective vaccines against the virus and its equal distribution among the peoples of the world. Unfortunately, some regions of the world, as in many other areas, face double standards and abuses in this area, too.
It should be emphasized that almost for the first time and regularly, the President of Azerbaijan raised such important issues as the need for effective measures against such a global catastrophe and the solidarity of world countries, and so on. On December 3 last year, the UN General Assembly Special Session in response to coronavirus convened on the initiative of President Ilham Aliyev held general discussions at the level of heads of state and government. Until then, the UN, the largest organization on the planet, had not held such a large-scale event that brings together the world countries on COVID-19.
On March 23, within the framework of the 46th session of the UN Human Rights Council, one more global initiative of the President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev was discussed and adopted in the form of a resolution.
The talk is about the problem of access to vaccines, which is now the number one issue for most countries on the planet. The resolution, entitled "Ensuring equal, affordable, timely and universal access to vaccines against COVID-19" states that the issue of inequitable and unequal distribution of COVID-19 vaccines among developed and developing countries should be solved.
It should be noted that the COVAX platform was created in the middle of last year to accelerate the process of vaccination against COVID-19 in the world. The main goal of the COVAX platform should be to accelerate the production of vaccines in the fight against COVID-19 and to create fair and equal access for all countries. However, it seems that this platform is having difficulty coping with its task, or is not interested in doing so. Many countries, especially in Africa and Asia, still suffer from the lack of access to vaccines. One of the main reasons for this is that COVAX supplies vaccines primarily to Western countries, and even some countries stockpile more vaccines than they need.
Note that in recent months, our country has held negotiations with leading vaccine manufacturers such as Sputnik V, AstraZeneca, Sinofarm, Sinovac, Moderna, Pfizer BioNTech.
Azerbaijan was one of the first countries to join the COVAX platform established in September by the Global Vaccination Alliance (GAVI), the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) and the World Health Organization (WHO).
According to the agreement signed between the State Agency for Compulsory Medical Insurance of Azerbaijan and GAVI (Global Alliance for Vaccines), when a vaccine will be produced that is approved by the WHO and meets the requirements, Azerbaijan should be provided with an approved vaccine, along with other member countries of the organization.
According to the agreement, Azerbaijan would be one of the first countries to receive the vaccine against COVID-19, which has passed the pre-qualification stage of the WHO. However, despite the fact that some time has passed and the vaccine has already been delivered to 60 countries under the COVAX platform, COVAX has not yet provided the vaccine to Azerbaijan, this organization is in no hurry to fulfill its commitment. In recent days, COVAX has informed Azerbaijan that less vaccines will be provided than promised, and even the date of their delivery is uncertain.
The attitude of COVAX, which was created to accelerate the vaccination process, towards Azerbaijan, which has helped many countries in the pandemic and put forward many initiatives in the fight against the virus, is not understandable. By the way, although, speaking at a recent international webinar on the COVID-19 pandemic and the geopolitical aspects of vaccination, the WHO representative in Azerbaijan said that the COVAX co-led by WHO was an initiative to address inequality, unfortunately, problems are obvious in this field.
The situation with COVAX, which plans to vaccinate an average of 2 billion people this year, shows that the reality is not as it was forecasted.
Some organizations and officials are also speaking out about the shortcomings in the distribution of vaccines around the world. Thus, a while ago, Secretary-General António Guterres noted that a distribution of vaccines is unfair and unequal. According to the comment of World Health Organization, COVAX vaccine supply is at risk due to high per capita demand for vaccines in high- and middle-income countries. WHO Director-General Tedros Adan Gebreyesus had to note several days ago that 459 mln people have been vaccinated agaginst coronavirus in the world that 75% of them falls to the share of 10 countries. It leads to think.
It also means that some companies that produce both COVAX and vaccines are involved in illegal activities. Though it has been considered to send 432 thousand doses of AstraZeneca vaccine to Azerbaijan untill May of this year which is one of the countries firstly joined tp this organization, it has been known these days that our country will receive these vaccines many times less than indicated and at indefinite times. Recall that a while ago, the State Agency for Compulsory Medical Insurance criticized the WHO for not including Azerbaijan in the list of 18 countries to receive Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines within the framework of the COVAX platform.
What happened around COVAX leads to the conclusion that the European Union, as well as individual countries, have turned this initiative into a political tool, a means of pressure. These countries have pursued a policy of providing vaccines first to themselves and then to countries close to them that are in line with their policies. As can be seen, in the field of health, the health of the planet, at a time when the world is facing such a dangerous challenge, the European Union discriminates against vaccines, against other countries, peoples, nations, shows excessive and inappropriate generosity against some countrie, closes the door to the countries which have faced with more serious situation and severe complications of the pandemic. Europe, which has not yet renounced its colonial policy, still promotes political issues and its own interests, and uses the issue of vaccination as a means of political pressure.
In the fight against COVID, the European Union can not once again abandon the policy of double standards. Now it is not secret for anybody that the lives of people in other countries, their rights for living are not important issues for European policy makers, the European Union. The fact that the European Union, which does not want to recognize the most natural human right - the right to life, raises the issue of human rights protection only when the political interests of Western circles demand it, shows how sincere this organization is. Today all world countries are face to face with COVID threat. Against the background of such a threat, who will take seriously the European Union's condemnation of any country for human rights violations, which prefers only its own interests in ensuring access to vaccines, discrimination, political pressure?
Discrimination against Azerbaijan and many other countries, such irresponsible actions by COVAX towards the citizens of some countries have once again shown that, as in all areas, every state must rely on its national strategy in the field of health. As in many cases, our state has taken the necessary measures to protect the health of citizens by establishing a far-sighted policy on vaccines. Despite initial promises from COVAX, the Azerbaijani government has insured its work and ensured the timely supply of the required number of high-quality CoronaVac vaccines from China. More than half a million citizens have already been vaccinated in our country, and the process is continuing successfully.
Vaccination, which began on January 18 with the vaccination of medical workers in the country, continues successfully in all regions. In accordance with the "Strategy for Vaccination against COVID-19 in the Republic of Azerbaijan for 2021-2022", from February 8, people over the age of 65, from February 17, 50 years and older, and from March 3, vaccination of pedagogical and technical staff of secondary schools in the capital aged 50 and over has been launched, and vaccination of people over 40 has been launched these days. Healthcare workers, people over 65, doctors and police have already been vaccinated in Azerbaijan.
Billions of people on the planet need vaccines today. As a result of discrimination by international organizations in this area, Azerbaijani citizens could also face serious problems with vaccination. However, as a result of Azerbaijan's well-thought-out strategic policy, the country's citizens have access to vaccines. It should be noted that Azerbaijan was the first country in the region to start vaccination and currently maintains its leadership in this field.
Zaur Mammadov, senior lecturer at the Academy of Public Administration under the President, chairman of the Baku Political Scientists Club