BRICS countries stress need for cooperation to deal with pandemic

New Delhi, Jun 1 (EFE).- The foreign ministers of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (BRICS) on Tuesday highlighted the need for cooperation to fight the pandemic during a meeting.

Held virtually due to restrictions linked to Covid-19, the meeting was attended by India’s Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, Brazil’s Carlos Alberto Franca, Russia’s Sergey Lavrov, China’s Wang Yi and Naledi Pandor representing South Africa.

India is chairing the BRICS forum this year, although Jaishankar in his opening speech expressed regret that the pandemic has prevented a physical meeting and continued to define the global reality.

“It also continues to provide the larger context in which we assess the world and our policies. This is a time to reflect on its many implications,” the Indian minister said.

India has been hit particularly hard by the pandemic, with over 28 million cases and nearly 332,000 deaths so far amid a second wave that collapsed the country’s health system in April and May before beginning to ease.

The South African top diplomat was the most emphatic in highlighting the need for cooperation, and recalled that her country and India had approached the World Trade Organization – backed by over 60 countries – urging it to suspend patents on vaccines and other anti-Covid patients for at least three years.

“We have a global dilemma, millions of people in wealthy nations have been vaccinated, while billions of people in poorer countries still wait, and are vulnerable to infection, disease and death,” Pandor said.

She said one had to remember that nobody was safe until everybody was safe and the global divide in access to vaccines had to be bridged in order to end the health crisis.

BRICS members China, Russia and India have been some of the most active players in distributing vaccines to developing nations, although New Delhi has had to delay supplies to deal with its own Covid crisis.

The Brazilian foreign minister highlighted cooperation in vaccine production and access to imported doses of Covishield – the vaccine developed by British-Swedish lab AstraZeneca and produced by the Serum Institute of India – as well as two Chinese vaccines and Russia’s Sputnik V.

Lavrov insisted that “only by joining efforts will we be able to overcome this crisis to the benefit of our countries.”

His Chinese counterpart Wang Yi warned that cooperation within BRICS was facing “profound and complex” ramifications of the pandemic.

“This is a challenge for BRICS countries but opportunities could also emerge from a crisis. We believe that with all of us joining forces, BRICS countries would surely display their unique value and play a due role,” he said. EFE


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