Although politicians and public health leaders have publicly committed to equitably sharing, the top global initiative for coronavirus vaccine that works may allow rich countries to reinforce their own stockpiles while making fewer doses available for the poor ones.
Dozens of vaccines are being researched, and some countries — including Britain, France, Germany and the US — have already ordered hundreds of millions of doses before the vaccines are even proven to work.
While no country can afford to buy doses of every potential vaccine candidate, many poor ones can’t afford to place such speculative bets at all, reports Associated Press.
The key initiative to help them is led by Gavi, a public-private partnership started by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation that buys vaccines for about 60 percent of the world’s children.
That means rich countries can sign deals on their own with drugmakers and then also get no-strings-attached allocations from Gavi. The donor countries are “encouraged (but not required) to donate vaccines if they have more than they need,” the document says.
“If, at the end of the day, those legal agreements are broken or countries seize assets or don’t allow the provision of vaccines (to developing countries), that’s a problem,” Gavi CEO Dr Seth Berkley said.
Chinese President Xi Jinping has also vowed to share any COVID-19 vaccine it develops with African countries — but only once immunisation has been completed in China.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has previously said it hopes to secure 2 billion doses for people in lower-income countries by the end of 2021, including through initiatives like Gavi’s.
Four devotees have been killed and three others injured when a group of armed militants opened fire on a mosque in Afghanistan's northern Faryab province on Tuesday.
"Militants affiliated with the Taliban group sprayed bullets on a mosque in Faryab's provincial capital Maimana city on Monday evening, killing four worshipers and wounding three others," provincial police spokesman Abdul Karim Yurash told Xinhua.
However, the spokesman added the attackers managed to flee away with a car after the attack but were intercepted by the police nearby.
Two attackers including Qari Naqib, a member of Taliban spy agency in the restive province, were killed.
The Taliban outfit has yet to make comment on the incident.
Foreign ministers of the European Union condemned the Turkish decision to convert Istanbul's iconic Hagia Sophia back to a mosque, saying " It will inevitably fuel mistrust, promote renewed divisions between religious communities and undermine efforts at dialogue and cooperation."
Earlier on Friday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan denounced rising criticism over Ankara's intention to convert the Hagia Sophia museum into a mosque, claiming that "The accusations against our country on the Hagia Sophia mean a direct attack on our sovereignty rights."
"We will continue to protect the rights of Muslims, the dominant faith in our country, and those of other religions," Erdogan said Friday in Istanbul.
The meeting on Monday was the first physical get-together of EU foreign ministers since the coronavirus pandemic.
Turkey topped the agenda of the 27-member bloc, which reached "a consensus among member states that EU-Turkey relations were currently under strain because of worrying developments affecting the EU's interests."
The EU foreign ministers also called for what they say is "illegal" and "unilateral" drilling by Turkey in the Eastern Mediterranean to stop and asked Turkey to contribute actively to a political solution in Libya and to respect the commitments it had taken, including the UN arms embargo.
Hagia Sophia is an iconic Byzantine church built in the 5th century.
Throughout the centuries, the former Greek Orthodox Christian church had also served as a Roman Catholic cathedral and an Ottoman mosque as the city changed rulers.
Since 1935, the 1,500-year-old Hagia Sophia has been open as a museum. It has been recognized by UNESCO as a monument of world cultural heritage since 1985.
On Friday, the Turkish State Council reached a verdict on the fate of the monument and Erdogan announced that the first Muslim prayer at the site will be held on July 24.
However, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Erdogan discussed in a phone conversation developments in Syria and Libya, as well as the fate of Hagia Sophia on Monday, the Kremlin said.
The United States said on Friday that it was "disappointed" by the Turkish government's decision of changing the Hagia Sophia museum into a mosque.
A spokesperson of the Chinese embassy in the United States on Monday said the accusation against China on the South China Sea issue is ‘completely unjustified’.
The statement that the U.S. Department of State issued earlier in the day disregards the efforts of China and ASEAN countries for peace and stability in the South China Sea.
However, it deliberately distorts the facts and international law including the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), exaggerates the situation in the region and attempts to sow discord between China and other littoral countries, the spokesperson said.
"China's position on the South China Sea issue has been consistent and clear-cut," said the spokesperson.
The spokesperson noted that the situation of the South China Sea has remained peaceful and stable and is still improving.
China and other littoral countries have maintained dialogue and communication through consultation mechanisms on maritime affairs, and worked to promote cooperation over the South China Sea.
Within the framework of fully and effectively implementing the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea, China and ASEAN countries are advancing the consultation on a Code of Conduct in the South China Sea and are making visible progress, the spokesperson said.
China says its foreign trade rose 5.1 percent year on year in June, with exports and imports up 4.3 percent and 6.2 percent respectively, official data showed on Tuesday.
According to the General Administration of Customs, the country registered better-than-expected foreign trade performance in the first half of the year.
Foreign trade of goods went down 3.2 percent year on year in the first half to 14.24 trillion yuan (about 2 trillion U.S. dollars), narrowing by 1.7 percentage points compared with the decrease for the first five months.
Following the turbulence in the first quarter, imports and exports of the second quarter showed signs of recovery and stability, and the exports have risen for three consecutive months, said the administration.