National News

COVID-19 vaccine: Rich man’s medicine and poor man’s burden?

ISLAMABAD: Federal Minister for Science and Technology, Chaudhry Fawad Hussain recently urged the United Nations’ departments to discourage any effort of monopolizing the recently announced COVID-19 vaccine and ensure its availability for the poor countries too.

The minister acknowledged the efforts of the international researchers and scientists who have invented the COVID-19 vaccine which was announced on Monday and said. “If the rich countries do not give this vaccine to the poor countries, this will be the classic way of monopolization over science”.

The minister was speaking at an event held at COMSTECH to mark the World Science Day for Peace and Development under this year’s theme “Science for and with Society”.

The mega event was organized by United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in collaboration with Commission on Science and Technology for Sustainable Development in the South (COMSATS), Organization of Islamic Cooperation Standing Committee on Scientific and Technological Cooperation (COMSTECH), Economic Cooperation Organization Science Foundation (ECOSF), Pakistan Science Foundation (PSF) and Pakistan Academy of Sciences (PAS).

Speaking on the occasion, the federal minister said Science has changed the world and impacted the lives of the people through changing their daily lifestyles. “Future of the world is largely dependent on the advancement of the science and technology sector”, he said.

Highlighting the role of Pakistan during the COVID-19 pandemic, he said when the first case was reported in the month of February; the country was totally dependent on imports of even the most needed COVID materials like masks, goggles, protective gears and ventilators etc.

However, the country not only became self-sufficient in most of the COVID materials within four months but become a major exporter of few medical types of equipment and donating this material to Afghanistan also which the federal minister termed as a huge leap forward.

The minister said that the whole world is looking at the advent of 5G technology which would bring a revolution of technology.

He advised the students especially girls to adopt the field of science which has a great scope and opportunities for them to excel.

He said only those countries will make progress who will be linked with science, argument and wisdom.

Speaking on the occasion, Coordinator General of COMSTECH, Dr Iqbal Chaudhry said one of the reasons for the failure of the countries to cope with COVID challenge was lack of focus on international science diplomacy.

He said Science has empowered the man and it can bring global transformation in terms of solving the problems through harnessing the potential of youth.

Secretary-General, Pakistan Academy of Sciences (PAS), Dr Aslam Baig emphasized the need to celebrate Science Day at the national level.

He also highlighted the need to invest more in the field of Science on which the future of our country depends largely.

President ECOSF, Dr Manzoor Soomro called for giving importance to science communication and adequate investment in the science sector to resolve the crisis being faced by the country on economic, climate and energy fronts.

He also emphasized on celebrating Science Week at national level linking with the World Science Day.

Representative, UNESCO, Ms Patricia McPhillips highlighted the importance of “Sharing in-time knowledge and data” to facilitate greater and timely access to scientific research across the world.

Ms McPhillips said the COVID-19 pandemic has reminded all of us the extent to which our well-being is associated with science and the importance of global sharing of science-based knowledge.

“It is the basic right of all the humans to benefit from science and its innovations”, she said.

Professor, Emeritus, Quaid-e-Azam University, Professor Dr Zabta Khan Shinwari said the world is not only facing a pandemic but infodemic too.

He said disinformation about COVID-19 through social media platforms is also a big issue which needs to be addressed.

Two students from far-flung areas of the countries spoke about their achievements in the field of science which was highly appreciated by the audience.

A large number of scientists, students, teachers, researchers, science communicators working in science centres and science museums and independent science communicators attended the event.

-MN Report

November 11, 2020

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