UN Committee Hits ‘Racist’ Distribution of COVID Vaccines Resulting in Higher Death Rates for Africans, Asians

FILE PHOTO: A woman holds a small bottle labelled with a “Coronavirus COVID-19 Vaccine” sticker and a medical syringe in this illustration taken October 30, 2020. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic

By Ashleen Herrarte

GENEVA, Switzerland – A United Nations body has said that one of the reasons why COVID-19 death rates are higher among those of African and Asian descent is because racism is rooted in slavery, colonialism and apartheid.

A majority of the COVID vaccines were given to high and upper-middle-income countries, and as such, was a replica of the “slavery and colonial era,” according to the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD).

CERD is an independent body that monitors how UN member states implement a policy adopted in 1965 called the UN Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.

Under the convention, member states focus on eliminating all forms of racial inequality and ensuring equality without discrimination.

Additionally, the committee said that since the injustices have not been redressed it denies basic human rights and worsens discrimination.

The group said they were worried about the pandemic’s dispersion impact as it “attributed to consequences of the shirts racial injustices of slavery and colonialism that remain largely unaccounted for.”

By allowing unequal distribution of vaccines between and within countries it privileges those from former colonial powers, said the committee. Only 15 percent of low-income countries’ populations have received one vaccine as of April 2022.

The statement by the Committee singled out the UK, Germany, and Switzerland for blocking a waiver on lifting intellectual property rules that allowed for redistribution and scaling up of the COVID response.

India and South Africa first proposed the waiver on the World Trade Organization rules for intellectual property in 2020.

“It is unacceptable for states to (support) private intellectual property rights of pharmaceutical companies over human rights,” said Meena Jagannath, director of global programs at Moment Law Lab and coordinator of the global Network of Movement Lawyers.

Jagannath added that siding with “pharma has deepened racial discrimination,” which is a product of not addressing colonialism and slavery.

About The Author

Ashleen is a third-year double major in political science/international affairs and philosophy at UC Riverside. She is anticipating to graduate by Spring 2022 and continue her studies Law School in hopes of pursuing her career goal of being a judge.

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