Bangladeshi Nobel laureate says COVID-19 vaccine must be free from commercial interests

Bangladeshi Nobel laureate says COVID-19 vaccine must be free from commercial interests
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Bangladeshi Nobel Peace Prize laureate Muhammad Yunus. (Reuters/File)
Bangladeshi Nobel laureate says COVID-19 vaccine must be free from commercial interests
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Bangladeshi Nobel laureate says COVID-19 vaccine must be free from commercial interests
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Updated 04 July 2020

Bangladeshi Nobel laureate says COVID-19 vaccine must be free from commercial interests

Bangladeshi Nobel laureate says COVID-19 vaccine must be free from commercial interests

DHAKA: The only way to contain the coronavirus pandemic is to have COVID-19 vaccines free from commercial interests, Bangladeshi Nobel Peace Prize laureate Muhammad Yunus told Arab News in an exclusive interview, as over 100 statesmen, academics, activists and religious leaders joined his campaign to declare coronavirus vaccines a global common good.
“I believe that, ultimately, the only way to definitively eradicate the pandemic is to have a vaccine that can be administered to all inhabitants of the planet,” Yunus said. “The effectiveness of the upcoming vaccination campaign will depend on its universality. To ensure the availability of the vaccines to all people on the planet almost at the same time, it has to be free from ownership.”
Vaccine research requires huge investments and many laboratories in the private sector are engaged in it. Yunus urged the World Health Organization (WHO) to design an action plan to put the vaccine into the public domain.
“To do so we intend to make a global pharmaceutical social business operational as soon as possible. I am looking for partners to help us achieve this goal,” said the economist, who pioneered tiny loans for village entrepreneurs as a way to fight poverty.
The “Declare COVID-19 Vaccine a Global Common Good Now” campaign launched by Yunus on Sunday has already gained the support of 19 Nobel Prize laureates, including Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Malala Yousafzai, Iranian political activist and lawyer Shirin Ebadi, Poland’s first democratically elected president Lech Walesa, British molecular biologist Sir Richard John Roberts, and former Soviet Union president Mikhail Gorbachev.
Yunus said he was expecting a huge response from global leaders to ensure that, in the case of a COVID-19 vaccine, there would be consensus for free universal access. He warned that this would not happen as long as the vaccine remained a commercial product owned by companies.
“It has to be freed from commercial interest. The polio vaccine was declared as a common good, not owned by anybody. Why not (have) the corona vaccine follow the same path?”
As of Friday, 112 former presidents, prime ministers, business leaders, artists and social activists joined his mission. Everyone can support the initiative through the website www.vaccinecommongood.org.
More than 11 million people around the world have contracted COVID-19 since late December. The disease has already claimed 524,700 lives.


Hong Kong records 107 new COVID-19 cases in latest spike

Hong Kong records 107 new COVID-19 cases in latest spike
Updated 29 min 4 sec ago

Hong Kong records 107 new COVID-19 cases in latest spike

Hong Kong records 107 new COVID-19 cases in latest spike
  • The Chinese special administrative region last recorded a triple digit figure on Dec. 19 with 109 cases

HONG KONG: Hong Kong reported 107 new coronavirus cases on Monday, the highest toll in nearly a month as authorities tested thousands of residents after an outbreak in an old residential building located in a busy commercial and residential area last week.
The Chinese special administrative region last recorded a triple digit figure on Dec. 19 with 109 cases. At its peak in July 2020 the city logged 149 new infections.
Dozens of infections were found last week in a densely packed apartment building in Yau Tsim Mong, a teeming district in the city’s Kowloon area.
Authorities thereafter ordered mandatory testing on hundreds of people living in the area and neighboring streets.
Hong Kong has recorded nearly 10,000 coronavirus cases and 162 deaths since the start of 2020.
Businesses are reeling from ongoing COVID-19 restrictions which have banned gatherings of more than two people and closed sport facilities, beauty salons and all restaurants for dining after 18:00 local time.