Former Prime Minister Helen Clark today called on donor countries to urgently step up the supply of vaccines to poorer countries.
“It is critical for donor countries to see the bigger picture, to see that this really is a time not to profit, but to be stepping up to support all countries to come through this…. the vaccine needs to be a gift to the world.”
“High income countries have ordered twice as many vaccines as they need. This needs to be redistributed. The critical case in our region right now is Papua New Guinea. The level of vaccination here is on a par with the least vaccinated in Sub Saharan Africa. This is shocking.”
She was talking at the Council for International Development’s (CID) annual conference today, which also included Samoan Prime Minister Fiamē Naomi Mata’afa, and Cook Islands Prime Minister Mark Brown.
“We’ve heard the saying all through Covid - ‘none of us are safe until all of us are safe’ - and haven’t we seen that in our own country? The same is true globally. If we let the disease run away in poor countries, we will not get on top of Covid,” said Helen Clark.
She called for TRIPS (‘Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights’) to be waivered as a point of principle, during Covid and any future pandemics, to make vaccines cheaper and more available in poorer countries.
Helen Clark also warned against the dangers of changing the original mandate of the ‘Five Eyes’ security arrangement.
“It has gone from being a ‘behind-the-scenes intelligence exchange, to something some of the major movers want to use to shape positions. This is a huge threat to New Zealand’s foreign policy. (Five Eyes) shouldn’t be used like that.”
She was also critical of AUKUS – an ‘Indo-Pacific’ tri-partite alliance between Australia, United Kingdom, and the United States – without any member countries from the ‘Indo-Pacific’ region.
“It’s managed to offend everybody!....That’s a club you definitely don’t want to be in,” she said.