KUALA LUMPUR (Bernama): The biggest obstacle to ending the Covid-19 pandemic is vaccine inequity and misinformation, says Senior Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein (pic).

“We cannot afford to turn this into a pandemic for the un-vaccinated,” said Hishammuddin during the first meeting of the International Forum on Covid-19 Vaccine Cooperation on Thursday (Aug 5) night, and put forth three key points in moving forward.

His speech at the forum organised by China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs via online meeting platform was made available to the media here in a statement issued by the Malaysian Foreign Ministry (Wisma Putra) on Thursday night.

The Foreign Minister’s first point was to increase global vaccine production by waiving intellectual property rights on Covid-19 vaccines, with the principle underpinning this is that every country should have the right to make its own vaccines during a pandemic.

The second is harmonising vaccine certifications, especially vaccines recognised under the World Health Organisation (WHO), to facilitate approvals for use by regulatory agencies.

“This will assist in facilitating travel, tourism and economic recovery in the near future, without having to deal with restrictions of specific vaccine recognitions,” he said.

His third key point is dispelling the info-demic and vaccine hesitancy arising from an overabundance of information and the rapid spread of misleading or fabricated news.

With new variants such as the Delta, Delta Plus and Lambda spreading worldwide, he pointed out the race is now on to vaccinate as many people as quickly as possible and the key is – access to the vaccines.

“While Malaysia is fortunate in this regard, we must admit that not all countries have access to vaccines. The imbalance in vaccine supply and distribution worldwide must be urgently remedied.

“It is high time we put a true meaning to vaccines being ‘global public goods’,” said Hishammuddin.

This is why Thursday’s forum is timely and a step in the right direction he said, adding that genuine international cooperation is the best bet, and Malaysia will fully support the Joint Declaration of the forum.

The forum chaired by Wang Yi, China’s State Councilor and Minister of Foreign Affairs will issue a Joint Statement at the end to demonstrate the unity and strong commitment of participating countries in combating the Covid-19 pandemic through international vaccine cooperation.- Bernama