UN chief makes case for increasing access to vaccines globally
The head of the United Nations warned that it was in the self-interest of countries in the Northern Hemisphere to help those in the South to access vaccines.
In remarks made overnight, Antonio Guterres, said: "If we believe it's possible to vaccinate the Global North and forget about the Global South, if we let the virus spread like wildfire in the Global South, it will mutate.
"And when it mutates, it will come back in a way that vaccines will no longer be relevant."
Guterres specifically asked that countries in the so-called North put the excess vaccines which they had ordered at the disposal of developing nations.
Nevertheless, as the growing spat between Brussels and London showed, in the near-term at least, even countries in the North were finding it hard to coordinate efforts and avoid harmful bickering.
Guterres also argued in favour of licensing vaccine production to the likes of Brazil and India given their "huge capacity" to produce generic versions of vaccines and to thus scale up global output.
On a more positive note, on Tuesday the UK Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, sounded a constructive note on relations with the EU following recent tensions regarding vaccine supplies.
"I'm sure that we can work with the EU to ensure that, whilst transparency is welcome, that no blockers are put in place,” Hancock reportedly said in remarks to the Chatham House think tank.
Hancock also said he was confident that UK vaccine supplies would not be disrupted after broaching the subject with the bosses of drug giants Pfizer and AstraZeneca.
"I think protectionism is not the right approach in the middle of a pandemic," he added.
For his part, European Union trade commissioner, Vladis Dombrovskis, said at a news conference that: "It's worth noting we are not planning to impose export bans or export restrictions.
"It's worth noting we are not planning to impose export bans or export restrictions."
"Primarily, it's a matter of transparency on the deliveries."