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Trudeau urges shared COVID-19 vaccine at global summit in a week amid UN run

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau stands during question period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill amid the COVID-19 pandemic in Ottawa on Monday, May 25, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says a COVID-19 vaccine must be shared by the world in order to eradicate the disease.

Trudeau delivered that message today in his third international summit in a week. Canada is campaigning for a coveted seat on the UN’s Security Council on a platform of helping to rebuild the post-pandemic world.

Today’s summit, hosted by British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, is aimed at ensuring poor countries will have ready access to an eventual vaccine for the deadly coronavirus that causes COVID-19.

“As a global community, we must work together to make sure that people around the world have access to vaccinations — especially the most vulnerable,” Trudeau said.

“So, it should come as no shock to anyone that the health of our citizens depends on the health of everyone, everywhere.”

Trudeau joined leaders from 50 countries and major organizations, including philanthropists Bill and Melinda Gates, at the international pledging conference, which hopes to raise nearly $10 billion for GAVI, the Vaccine Alliance — the leading agency for distributing vaccines to less-developed countries.

He has already announced Canada’s five-year, $600-million pledge to GAVI, which has immunized 760 million children and prevented 13 million deaths in the world’s poorest countries since 2000.

“Vaccines work, and 86 per cent of the world’s children have been reached by routine immunization. And in the midst of a global pandemic, it has never been more important to build capacity to respond to disease outbreaks and work with organizations to develop and deliver vaccines,” Trudeau said.

Trudeau’s participation in today’s virtual conference comes one day after he delivered an address to a virtual summit of the Organisation of African, Caribbean, and Pacific States.

He told that summit Canada is committed to helping developing countries, hardest hit by the pandemic, to survive the crisis — underlining a message he delivered last week when he co-hosted a United Nations-sponsored conference aimed at developing a co-ordinated global recovery plan that leaves no country behind.

Without a global plan, the UN estimates the pandemic could slash nearly US$8.5 trillion from the world economy over the next two years, forcing 34.3 million people into extreme poverty this year and potentially 130 million more over the course of the decade.

Trudeau’s leading role in a series of international conferences comes two weeks before the UN’s 193 ambassadors are to start voting by secret ballot to fill two non-permanent seats on the Security Council. Canada is competing against Norway and Ireland.

The June 17 vote is to be conducted without a full meeting of the General Assembly because of physical distancing requirements to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 4, 2020.

Mike Blanchfield, The Canadian Press


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