Dr. Mike Ryan, the Irish doctor leading the World Health Organization's fight against the COVID-19, has strong thoughts regarding global vaccine distribution.
Dr. Ryan, a native of Co Sligo and the executive director of the WHO's Health Emergencies Programme, spoke on February 17 while accepting the Romero Award from Trócaire, the official overseas development agency of the Catholic Church in Ireland.
Accepting the Romero Award on Wednesday, Dr. Mike Ryan said: “COVID-19 does not discriminate. We too cannot, must not, discriminate in our fight against this pandemic. Doing so will only work in the pandemic’s favour. The last eight months have shown us that unity, not singularity, defeats pandemics.”
Regarding vaccine distribution, Dr. Ryan offered strong words: "If we stand by, and allow frontline health workers, and vulnerable people in developing countries, to not be vaccinated, while the rich north gets on with vaccinating perfectly healthy young people, then I hope the history books write that down."
Dr. Ryan asserted that vaccine distribution needs to progress on the "basis of need, vulnerability, and equity, not on the ability to pay, and pay to play, or pay to survive."
He added: "I hope right now that we all can just step back, as a global community, and use these precious scientific tools that we've developed in the fastest time in history and use them to realize Dr. Tedros's dream of leaving no one behind."
Some powerful words from @DrMikeRyan on accepting the Trócaire Romero Award to honour outstanding contributions to global justice. #VaccineEquity #LeaveNoOneBehind— Trócaire (@trocaire) February 17, 2021
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Elsewhere during Wednesday's event, Dr. Ryan discussed the reopening of society: "I've said this since the beginning if you focus on cases, contacts and clusters, if you focus on restricting the movement of those who are sick or their contacts then you don't have to restrict the movement of all of society."
The Irish doctor went on to reflect on his own upbringing in Ireland and how it's shaped his views of the global community.
"My heart is local," Dr. Ryan said. "I come from a small village of 14 houses or 15 houses on the border of two counties.
"I think they say in Ireland, it takes a village to raise a child. Well, I grew up in that village, and I know what community actually means."
He added: "We as individuals, and we as communities, need to also recognize that pure individualism gets us nowhere. We have to act collectively in the face of an epidemic."