COVID-19 pandemic was the most discussed topic at the United Nations General Assembly this week. While discussing the coronavirus pandemic, each leader projected other pressing issues related to the pandemic in their signature annual addresses to the UN General Meeting.
Every President, Foreign Minister, King and Head of the State addressed the pandemic as a sweeping global disaster. They shared different views about the situations created by the pandemic in different countries. The analysis of the pandemic was through the lenses of vaccine inequality, economic disaster, social isolation and scientific misinformation.
United States: President Joe Biden used his speech to assure the nations that US was back to reclaim its leadership in supporting world peace and prosperity. Biden projected America as generous and resourceful. Covid-19 was described as a challenge for leadership and Biden remarked that around 100 countries have received vaccines from the United States as a ‘dose of hope’.
Palau: Palau President Surangel S. Whipps Jr. stated that his country was safe from Covid-19 as Taiwan and other allies delivered vaccines and other items to the country. Palau has been reported to have 80% vaccination rate and zero deaths regarding covid.
Iran: President Ebrahim Raisi declared that sanctions on medicines were crimes against humanity, at the time of a pandemic. Iran had started to produce vaccines on its own since the import of Covid-19 vaccines from reliable international sources faced inhumane medical sanctions, Raisi said.
Namibia: Only 4% of African population has been fully immunized, while several other countries have already announced booster shot programmes. Namibia drew parallels between the vaccine inequality faced by Africans and racism that has ravaged the continent for centuries.
Many people in the developing countries were left out as a result of vaccine apartheid, Namibian President Hage Geingob said. He added that it was a shame that they had a situation where in some countries, citizens were at the stage of receiving booster shots while in many other countries, majority of the people were waiting to receive their first shot of vaccine.
Poland: Poland President Andrzej Duda commented that he was humbled by the virus and preached for global recovery. He said that he stood in front of all of the people as one of the over 200 million people who had recovered from the virus.
He asked other leaders about the situation in the post-pandemic world, whether the pandemic could bring a world of solidarity, or if the nations would resume the businesses considering the pandemic as just an interruption in the routine of old mistakes.
Brazil: Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro disregarded the requirement of vaccine mandate, while he declared that getting jabbed was a personal medical choice. He also claimed that he remained unvaccinated even after being infected with COVID-19 last year. He responded to the criticism his country faced, about the management of vaccination by saying that vaccines would be available, but not required for everyone.
Hours after Bolsonaro’s speech, the Health Minister of Brazil, who had travelled with Bolsonaro, tested positive. Marcelo Quiroga was required to stay behind in United States for isolation.