More than 100 global leaders, including 18 Nobel Peace Prize laureates, have signed a letter calling on the international community to make COVID-19 vaccines available worldwide as a "common good," the Dhaka-based Yunus Center, founded by the Nobel Peace Prize winner Mohammad Yunus, said.
Former presidents, politicians, as well as world-renown artists and international organisations, have joined the initiative. The list includes such names as Desmond Tutu, Mikhail Gorbachev, Malala Yousafzai, George Clooney, Thomas Bach and Andrea Bocelli among many others.
"We appeal to governments, foundations, philanthropists and social businesses to come forward to produce and/or distribute the vaccines all over the world for free. We invite all social, political, and health entities to re-affirm our collective responsibility for the protection of all vulnerable persons without any discrimination whatsoever," the statement published on Sunday read.
The group appealed to the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Director-General of the World Health Organisation (WHO), as well as religious leaders, corporations and media companies to come together to ensure available COVID-19 vaccines.
"A pandemic clearly exposes the strength and weaknesses of healthcare systems in every country and highlights the obstacles and inequities in gaining access to healthcare. The effectiveness of the upcoming vaccination campaign will depend on its universality," the statement added.
The WHO declared the COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic on March 11. To date, over 10 million people have been infected with the coronavirus worldwide, with some 500,000 fatalities, according to Johns Hopkins University.