“Nobody is safe until everyone is safe,” points out New Zealand’s Jacinda Ardern in reference to the new variants that could prove more jab-resistant, thus “potentially undermining the very vaccines (world leaders) have been working so hard to provide.”
WELLINGTON, NEW ZEALAND — Armed with the desire to examine the 21-nation Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) group’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, New Zealand’s Jacinda Ardern has urged APEC leaders to bolster vaccine rollouts even as she called on an emergency meeting with the aim of intensifying efforts to contain the fast-spreading coronavirus variants now fueling the pandemic.
The virtual meeting, called in short notice, will be hosted by New Zealand. The prime minister will drive for increased resources for the United Nations-backed COVAX program, which was set up to ensure equitable distribution of vaccines but has actually struggled to secure enough doses for low-income nations.
“It’s a unique opportunity to get APEC leaders together to discuss how we get our region through the health crisis and accelerate economic recovery,” Ardern told reporters in a media briefing.
New Zealand has been designated to host an online summit of APEC leaders in November but she said the extraordinary circumstances created by Covid-19 warranted an additional urgent meeting.
She announced that United States president Joseph Biden and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin will attend the virtual meeting while China’s foreign ministry confirmed president Xi Jinping’s participation.
The White House said it will be Mr Biden’s first opportunity to meet many APEC leaders and he would “emphasize the importance he places on the region as well as his vision for a free and open Indo-Pacific.”
Improving vaccine cooperation is expected to be a major focus at the meeting as runaway outbreaks of the Delta variant in Thailand and Indonesia showed why it was a mistake for countries to prioritize inoculating their own populations over international cooperation. (TRC/The MiNT)