Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev has repeatedly stressed the importance of the joint fight of the countries of the world against the coronavirus pandemic and close cooperation in this area. In this sense, it was stated that equitable distribution of vaccines among countries of the world is an important component of effective cooperation in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. Given that the COVAX platform is a mechanism designed to accelerate the search for effective vaccines for all countries and ensure equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines around the world, Azerbaijan was one of the first 50 countries to join the COVAX platform last year.
However, the promise made by the COVAX initiative to provide countries with the appropriate vaccine is yet to be fulfilled. The World Health Organization names Azerbaijan to be one of the exemplary countries in the fight against coronavirus. Today, when Azerbaijan has all the necessary infrastructure to hold vaccination, and such an attitude towards the country is wrong and contradicts the goals and objectives of the institution.
It should be emphasized that since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, Azerbaijan has been taking systemic measures against the virus both domestically and internationally, and has also come up with new initiatives to unite international efforts in the fight against this pandemic and create new formats of cooperation.
It was on the initiative of the President of Azerbaijan that a special session of the UN General Assembly on combating the pandemic at the level of heads of state and governments was successfully held last December, which made a significant contribution to the coordinated activities of the international community. Under the leadership of President Ilham Aliyev, Azerbaijan, in order to combat the virus at the global level, to strengthen cooperation, continues to come out with various new initiatives and actively participate in their implementation. Also, Azerbaijan has provided humanitarian assistance to more than 30 countries in the fight against coronavirus and donated $10 million to the World Health Organization.
In addition, Azerbaijan was one of the first countries to join and support the international COVAX initiative, which was created for the equitable distribution and availability of vaccines. Azerbaijan, as in all other issues, contributes to the fight against coronavirus at the international level, but, unfortunately, despite such activities, our country still faces double standards. COVAX, which is responsible for the fair distribution of vaccines, and which is yet to ship off doses of vaccines to Azerbaijan at the agreed time and quantity, has recently informed Azerbaijan that fewer doses of vaccines will be delivered than originally promised, and the delivery was rescheduled till later notice. However, COVAX has already delivered the first batch of vaccines to a neighboring friendly country – Georgia.
It should be borne in mind that these double standards deprive people of the opportunity to receive timely vaccinations, endanger their lives and even in some cases take their lives.
Azerbaijan’s position is that vaccines should not be available only to wealthy countries. The interests of poor countries must also be taken into account and vaccines must be delivered to them as well. On March 23, 2021, within the framework of the 46th session of the UN Human Rights Council, on the initiative of Azerbaijan as the chairman of the Non-Aligned Movement, a resolution was adopted entitled “Ensuring equal, affordable, timely and universal access to vaccines against COVID-19”. The resolution calls on UN Member States and other relevant bodies (international organizations, private sector representatives, civil society members, etc.) to take appropriate measures to ensure that COVID-19 vaccines are distributed fairly among all states. At the same time, the resolution, which expresses support for international initiatives created to support equitable distribution of vaccines, including the COVAX initiative, calls on all states to remove unnecessary barriers on the export of vaccines to other countries.
Therefore, today’s realities against Azerbaijan only dissapoint. The World Health Organization is also responsible in this regard. WHO must ensure that vaccines are available to every country and must not turn a blind eye to violations of the principle of equity in vaccine distribution.