As the global death toll from COVID-19 reached half a million on Sunday, more than hundred global leaders, including eighteen Nobel Peace Prize laureates, have urged the international community to make the vaccines free, worldwide, the Dhaka-based Yunus Center, founded by the Nobel Peace Prize winner Mohammad Yunus said in a statement. “We appeal to governments, foundations, philanthropists and social businesses to come forward to produce and/or distribute the vaccines all over the world for free,” stated in the letter signed by the prominent group of people to the international community, ANI reported.

Calling the initiative a mass urgency and how free vaccines could be used for “global common good,” a list of Nobel laureates including Desmond Tutu, Mikhail Gorbachev, Malala Yousafzai, George Clooney, Thomas Bach and Andrea Bocelli among many others, urged that COVID-19 vaccine should be produced and distributed across the globe for free.

The group has enlisted former presidents, politicians, renowned artists, rights activists and international organizations.

What You Should Know

  • More than 100 global leaders, including 18 Nobel Peace Prize laureates appealed for free COVID-19 vaccines worldwide.
  • Malala Yousafzai, Shabana Azmi, Sharon Stone are among the leaders in the group.
  • The initiative is calling for “common good” vaccines, free for the masses.

The signatories also include Kailash Satyarthi, Ratan Tata, Azim Premji, film and theatre actress Shabana Azmi, and American actress Sharon Stone among others. They have invited all “social, political, and health entities to re-affirm our collective responsibility for the protection of all vulnerable persons without any discrimination whatsoever,” the statement, which was published on Sunday, read.

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Coronavirus cases are surging

Globally, coronavirus cases have crossed the 10 million-mark with over 5 lakh people have died with no proper vaccines available to the masses. In India alone, more than 19,000 new patients recorded for a second consecutive day as the total cases crossed 5.48 lakh-mark, the Union Health Ministry said this morning. Of a total of 16,475 patients that have died in the country, 380 were in the last 24 hours alone.

The group appealed to the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Director-General of the World Health Organisation (WHO) saying, “A pandemic clearly exposes the strength and weaknesses of healthcare systems in every country and highlights the obstacles and inequities in gaining access to healthcare. The effectiveness of the upcoming vaccination campaign will depend on its universality.”

According to the data collected by the WHO, till date, over 10 million people have been infected with the coronavirus worldwide, with some 500,000 fatalities.

UN chief appealed the same

Earlier this month, United Nations chief Antonio Guterres issued a statement backing the development of “people’s vaccine” which will be available to everyone across the globe. Addressing a virtual summit on June 4, the UN Secretary-General had said, “A COVID-19 vaccine must be seen as a global public good and a people’s vaccine which a growing number of world leaders are calling for.”

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