Global immunization possible by end-2022: Unicef

Eudore R. Chand

Elon Musk’s notion of settling on Mars a dangerous delusion: Lord Martin Rees

Dubai 11 March 2021: The final day of the World Government Summit Dialogues saw healthcare and political leaders from around the world explain the urgent requirement for an equitable vaccination distribution program that could see the entire population of the Earth immunized against Covid-19 by 2022.

A roster of high-profile guest speakers also discussed the perils of leaving poor countries behind as vaccine nationalism sets in, how the global economy has shifted towards Asia, the importance of powering the economic recovery with renewable energies to drive the global energy transition, and the possibilities and perils of space exploration, among other pressing topics.

Executive Director of Unicef Fore said: “We still need to do more – the UAE has supported the COVAX Facility in the actual distribution – in Ghana last week, it provided 2,500 fridges to help in the cold chain. We, as one world, need to ensure equitability, and although we are off to a good start with the target of 2 billion doses a year, it is likely to be at least end-2022 before we vaccinate a majority of the population – particularly in the least developed countries. Licensing is equally a challenge here.”

The second day of the virtual event opened with a keynote from the Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO), Dr. Tedros Ghebreyesus. “Vaccine nationalism will only prolong the pandemic, and the human and economic suffering that goes with it,” he said.

“And although vaccines will help, we will still be left with many of the same challenges we had before. Health must be seen not as a cost to be contained but as an investment in productive and resilient populations, and a key to sustainable development.

“Health is not simply a product of strong and prosperous nations – it’s the foundation of social, economic, and political stability,” he added.

Sultan Ahmed Bin Sulayem, Group Chairman and CEO of DP World, issued a challenge to global corporations to join vaccine distribution effort. “Until the vaccine is available to everyone, the pandemic will not end for anyone,” he said.

“I invite you to join Unicef, the World Health Organization and DP World to make vaccines for all a reality. We can only do this together, with actions, not words, and commitment to a better future for all. Distributing COVID-19 vaccines is humanity’s biggest logistics challenge since the end of the Second World War,” Bin Sulayem said.

Settling on Mars

The final session of the event, ‘The Race to Space and Humanity’s Future’, saw Astrophysicist, Neil deGrasse Tyson and The Lord Martin Rees, Astrophysicist, Cosmologist, and 60th President of the Royal Society, explore the possibilities and perils of future space exploration. The two world-leading scientists also explained how the foundations of tomorrow’s economy will pivot on innovations in the STEM fields, and how decision-makers must excite people to enter the STEM fields, through space exploration and development programs.

Lord Rees said: “The only reason for humans to go to space would be for adventure. To live on Mars is not going to be easy. Mars has a hostile environment. So, the idea of Elon Musk to have a million people settle on Mars is a dangerous delusion. Living on Mars is no better than living on the South Pole or the tip of Mount Everest.”

Dr. Neil DeGrasse Tyson said: “To ship a billion people to another planet to help them survive a catastrophe on earth seems unrealistic. If you want to call Mars home, you need to terraform Mars, turn it into Earth. It is so much easier to make Earth return to Earth again rather than terraforming Mars.

“There is no force on Earth as potent as the exploration of space that impacts our thoughts and ambitions. Thinking about the future is half of what drives the future. Space will always remain as an inspiration for young people and it is an area we need to support,” he added. “The next generation has a broader view of the world. They think globally and have embraced technology like never before. I cannot wait for them to take over the Earth and fix the problems of this world. The edge of the Earth is space and with resources available and the spirit adventure, I have high hopes of all that the next generation will bring us.”

Lord Martin Rees also said, “Space exploration costs have come down and many nations can now join in. The big question here is what do we want to find here? Do we want to find out if there is life out there? The Earth has an amazing biosphere – to find life on Mars or anywhere else will be crucially important as it then tells us that life isn’t a rare fluke and it might exist in a billion places in the galaxies.”

Dr. Neil DeGrasse Tyson, added: “Space is for everyone and the Solar System is the world’s backyard. So, it’s great to see that collaborations are becoming important in space exploration and countries are coming together to share knowledge and resources.”

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