We must reject growing vaccine nationalism: Widodo tells D-8

We must reject growing vaccine nationalism: Widodo tells D-8

A screenshot of Indonesian President Joko Widodo (top-middle) at the 10th D-8 Summit, which was held online on Thursday (April 8, 2021). (ANTARA/Aria Cindyara)

Jakarta (ANTARA) - Indonesian President Joko Widodo has sought support from the Developing Eight Group (D-8) countries for vaccine multilateralism amid increasing vaccine nationalism and protectionism in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“D-8 must continue to promote equitable access to vaccines. Vaccine affordability and availability is key to exit the pandemic. However, we are witnessing an increase in vaccine nationalism and we must reject this. We must support vaccine multilateralism,” said President Widodo at the 10th D-8 Summit, held online on Thursday.

He said he believes that in the time of a global pandemic, vaccines are global public goods, which means the world must seek to produce and distribute vaccines for all.

Speaking to leaders of the D-8 grouping, which includes Iran, Egypt, Nigeria, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Turkey, Malaysia, and Indonesia, Widodo said the world must be able to multiply its vaccine production capacity and that there must be no restrictions on vaccine production and distribution.

“This is where the D-8 can play a role in offering its production capacity to increase production to promote equitable access to vaccines and encourage the transfer of technology,” he remarked.

He further said that the D-8 must be open to future cooperation in vaccine development and production, as a number of its member countries, including Indonesia, are in the process of developing their own vaccines.

At the meeting, Bangladesh, which has assumed chairmanship of the D-8 after Turkey, voiced its support for President Widodo’s statement on vaccines.

“I think we should work on it together,” Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina stated.

Indonesia has been a vocal proponent of equal and equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines. The country is among the co-chairs of the COVAX Advance Market Commitment Engagement Group (COVAX AMC EG).

Indonesian Vice Foreign Minister Mahendra Siregar had raised similar concerns as Widodo during the 17th Session of the D-8 Council of Ministers meeting, held on Wednesday (April 7, 2021). He had said that the D-8 must ensure that vaccines can be distributed fairly for all without any hindrance.

“In this regard, we need to support the COVAX platform as the only platform to ensure equal access and affordable prices of vaccines for all,” he stressed.

He also called on the D-8 to prioritize strengthening research and development, as well as the health and pharmaceutical industry and network, in the D-8 countries. (INE)
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