Our Analytics 25 march — 11:56

After all, Ilham Aliyev warned, if 'everyone is for oneself...' (Power over life)

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BY NATELLA RUSTAMOVA, AZERI DAILY AUTHOR

COVID-19 is a common misfortune of all modern mankind, not a single person on the planet today is guaranteed from the possibility of becoming infected with this terrible virus. Indeed, in the context of a raging pandemic, the highest degree of danger and the irresistible spread of the dangerous disease across all continents evokes parallels with mass diseases well known from history, such as plague, smallpox, etc.

Azerbaijan was one of the first countries to realise the threat to all mankind, and its president called on the world to join forces in the fight against the deadly infection. Back in early May 2020, when the pandemic was just beginning to gain momentum, at the initiative of Ilham Aliyev, as Chairman of the Non-Aligned Movement, a summit of this authoritative international organisation, including 120 states, was held in the format of a video conference on the theme 'We are together against COVID-19.'

'Thanks to mutual support, without becoming self-contained, and only through joint efforts, we can defeat COVID,' the head of Azerbaijan said in his speech at the forum, noting that as a responsible and reliable member of the world community, our country in support of the global fight against coronavirus provided the World Health Organisation (WHO) with voluntary financial assistance of $5 million.

Gutteres supported Aliyev's theses, although world powers rushed into the race for the vaccine

The leader of Azerbaijan also initiated the convening of a special session of the UN General Assembly at the level of heads of state and government, which is extremely important in the current situation. It is noteworthy that Ilham Aliyev addressed his proposals to international organisations and the world community at a time when scientists from different countries were just talking about the need for an anti-Covid-19 vaccine as the only salvation from an infection threatening the world.

However, the world powers waited, apparently hoping that the coronavirus itself would fade away, and only after making sure that this did not happen, in December last year, they finally gathered at a session of the General Assembly to combat infection.

We must pay tribute to scientists-virologists: by that time, at the cost of their titanic work, vaccines of several world scientific centres had already been created and partially tested. And the President of Azerbaijan addressed the world community at the General Assembly with the first call to ensure equal and unhindered access to vaccines against COVID-19 for all countries, pointing out the importance of mutual support and solidarity of the states of the world in this difficult period for all.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres spoke about the same at the session. 'When countries choose their own path, all roads are open to the virus,' he said, proposing to fight the coronavirus together.

The advent of COVAX did not solve, but exacerbated the problem

It would seem that these reasonable and extremely important appeals were heard and approved by the heads and representatives of the states of the world, but, unfortunately, it has not come to their implementation so far. It is not for nothing that from time immemorial many peoples have an expression that says that the road to hell is paved with good intentions. The decision of the UN General Assembly on the need for joint coordinated activities of the international community to combat the pandemic seems to have been forgotten everywhere. In any case, what is happening in the world with vaccines today does not indicate either coordination or solidarity. In reality, almost all countries act according to the principle 'every man for himself,' which Ilham Aliyev warned about as an extremely dangerous practice.

Even at the level of development and clinical trials of vaccines, a race for primacy has begun between research centres and manufacturing companies from different countries. And no one was in a hurry to share their research, did not warn fellow researchers about the identified pitfalls and dead ends. Everyone sought to become leaders in the creation and production of healing drugs, which, of course, promised not only fame, but also huge dividends.

One of the 'good intentions' was the international COVAX initiative, created with the aim of equitable distribution and availability of vaccines. WHO Director-General Tedros Ghebreyesus loudly announced that all 190 COVAX countries 'will be able to have access to the vaccine bank in the first half of 2021.' In reality, the vaccine supply schedule developed and approved by COVAX in accordance with the applications of the states is not just disrupted, but, one might say, has generally taken on a chaotic and unpredictable character. Wealthy states such as the United States, Britain, Germany, without worrying about the population of low-income countries, intercept vaccine shipments, concluding more profitable deals for manufacturing companies. Moreover, some countries receive several times more vaccines than they need (apparently for the future), while developing regions, meanwhile, are experiencing an acute shortage of them. Meanwhile, COVAX, called to regulate and equitably distribute vaccines among countries, does not react to this in any way.

To a certain extent, Azerbaijan has also experienced the unfavourable situation with vaccines. Our country, which was one of the first to join the COVAX program, was assured that vaccines in the declared quantity would be delivered 'in a pre-agreed order.' However, the organisation does not adhere to this order, in accordance with which we were to receive vaccines from the beginning of the year - not a single supply to our country has yet been made. But COVAX announced that Azerbaijan will receive less vaccines than was previously agreed.

Meanwhile, from the same COVAX, Georgia has already received the first batch of drugs for vaccination. We are happy for our neighbours, but would like to remind that our country applied earlier and expected the vaccine in accordance with the 'agreed procedure.'

Fortunately, our president, not for the first time showing foresight, ordered to conclude a supply agreement directly with a Chinese manufacturer and the vaccination campaign in Azerbaijan is carried out in accordance with the plan. There is no doubt that negative information from certain sources forced the head of state to take care of the country's citizens in this way.

Moreover, Azerbaijan continues its attempts to mobilise the world community for joint efforts in the fight against the pandemic - on 23 March, at the initiative of our country, the UN Human Rights Council adopted a resolution on fair and equal distribution of vaccines on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement. By example, Azerbaijan is also helping 30 countries in the fight against coronavirus.

And vaccines took on a political tinge

And this at a time when incomprehensible manipulations with vaccines in a number of countries are acquiring not only commercial, but also political overtones. How else to interpret the double standards in the distribution of life-saving drugs allowed by COVAX - a program carried out under the auspices of the World Health Organisation, which, in turn, operates within the UN system? That is, in fact, not only COVAX does not fulfil its promises, but the UN, represented by WHO, ignores its main principle - equal opportunities for the security and development of member countries.

Is it possible that even at such a truly critical moment for mankind, when it is actually a question of its further existence on planet Earth, politicians and businessmen cannot, at least temporarily, abandon their ambitions and benefits? Isn't it clear to someone else that it is possible to defeat COVID in one single country only for a very short time? The ubiquitous virus will surely return, having overcome all obstacles and borders...

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