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UN chief joins world leaders in calling for investment to end pandemic this year****** United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres addresses the virtual launch of the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator (ACT-Accelerator) advocacy campaign for 2022 in New York, on Feb. 9, 2022. Guterres on Wednesday joined world leaders in calling for urgent investment to end the COVID-19 pandemic this year. (Eskinder Debebe/UN Photo/Handout via Xinhua)
UNITED NATIONS, Feb. 9 (Xinhua) -- United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Wednesday joined world leaders in calling for urgent investment to end the COVID-19 pandemic this year.
The pandemic could be defeated this year but "only if vaccines, tests and treatments are made available to all people," the UN chief said.
The top UN official was among some world leaders calling for 23 billion U.S. dollars to support the ACT-Accelerator, the landmark collaboration that makes these goods accessible to everyone globally.
"Vaccine inequity is the biggest moral failure of our times - and people are paying the price," said Guterres, underlining the urgency to act now.
"Until and unless we can ensure access to these tools, the pandemic will not go away, and the sense of insecurity of people will only deepen."
The ACT-Accelerator was established in April 2020, just weeks after the pandemic was declared, to speed up development and access to COVID-19 tests, treatments and vaccines. The global vaccine solidarity initiative COVAX is one of its four pillars.
The partnership brings together governments, scientists, philanthropists, businesses, civil society and global health organizations such as GAVI, the vaccine alliance; the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), and the UN's health agency, World Health Organization (WHO).
The campaign launched on Wednesday aims to meet a 16 billion dollar financing gap, and nearly 7 billion dollars for in-country delivery costs, in the bid to end the pandemic as a global emergency this year.
The co-chairs of the ACT-Accelerator Facilitation Council, which provides high-level political leadership to advocate for resource mobilization, recently wrote to more than 50 rich countries to encourage "fair share" contributions.
The financing framework is calculated on the size of their national economies and what they would gain from a faster global economic and trade recovery.
As Guterres put it: "If we want to ensure vaccinations for everyone to end this pandemic, we must first inject fairness into the system."
The funding will help to curb coronavirus transmission, break the cycle of variants, relieve overburdened health workers and systems, and save lives, world leaders said, warning that with every month of delay, the global economy stands to lose almost four times the investment the ACT-Accelerator needs.
Financing will be used to procure and provide lifesaving tools, and personal protective equipment (PPE) for health workers, to low and middle-income countries.
It will support measures that include driving vaccine rollouts, creating a Pandemic Vaccine Pool of 600 million doses, purchasing 700 million tests, procuring treatments for 120 million patients, and 100 percent of the oxygen needs of low-income countries.
"The longer inequitable access to COVID-19 vaccines, tests and treatments persists, the longer the pandemic will persist," said President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa, who co-chairs the Facilitation Council together with Norwegian Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Store.
The UN and partners continue to warn against the dangers of inequity three years into the pandemic.
Although more than 4.7 billion COVID-19 tests have been administered globally so far, WHO report only around 22 million, a paltry 0.4 percent, were administered in low-income countries.
Furthermore, only 10 percent of people in these nations have received at least one vaccine dose.
Since its inception, the ACT-Accelerator has funded vital research and development of new therapeutics, vaccines, and diagnostics, and delivered over a billion vaccine doses through COVAX, among other achievements.
The mechanism has an overall budget of 23.4 billion dollars and donors are urged to contribute 16.8 billion dollars. They have already pledged 814 million dollars, leaving the 16 billion dollars funding gap. It is expected that the remaining 6.5 billion dollars will be self-financed by middle-income countries.
Separate to the budget, another 6.8 billion dollars is required for in-country delivery of vaccines and diagnostics.
WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus stated that the rapid spread of the Omicron variant has underlined the urgent need to ensure tests, treatments and vaccines are distributed equitably globally.
"If higher-income countries pay their fair share of the ACT-Accelerator costs, the partnership can support low and middle-income countries to overcome low COVID-19 vaccination levels, weak testing, and medicine shortages," he said.
"Science gave us the tools to fight COVID-19; if they are shared globally in solidarity, we can end COVID-19 as a global health emergency this year."
Across China: Tibetan carpet industry spurs dreams of local artisans******
by Xinhua writers Liu Xinyong, Liu Zhoupeng, Dronla。
LHASA, Dec. 9 (Xinhua) -- Migmar Tsering could have opted to retire years ago, but he chose to stick around instead as his Tibetan carpet workshop needed seasoned artisans like him.。
The 63-year-old skillful carpet maker is deeply in love with his work and has been engaged in this craft for the past 47 years at the Gyantse Carpet Factory in Xigaze City, southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region.。
Gyantse County is famed for its quality and exquisite Tibetan carpets, with the weaving techniques dating back over 900 years.。
Generations of artisans here cherish the traditional craft and have carried forward the legacy, with many aspiring to tap even bigger markets at home and abroad by powering carpet making through innovation.。
"Look! The dragon, phoenix and coral trees on this carpet augur a happy marriage, material prosperity and good fortune," Migmar said, adding that locals favor such traditional patterns, while bold designs can be adopted for customers from outside the region.。
Thanks to Migmar's magical hands, the initially weaved carpets can be revamped into all kinds of three-dimensional creations of art using a simple pair of scissors.。
Established in 1973, the workshop was listed among the first batch of demonstration bases for the protection of national intangible cultural heritages by the central government in 2011.。
The cultural department of Tibet earmarked 6.5 million yuan (about 1 million U.S. dollars) in 2017 from an intangible cultural heritage protection fund for the construction of two modern buildings of the factory, said Lhaphun, manager of the carpet workshop.。
"Our workshop currently boasts 60 skilled workers and complete sets of equipment, and sees orders flooding in. Our products are marketed both at home and abroad," he added.。
Compared with Lhaphun and Migmar, 30-year-old Tenzin Trinley is a latecomer in the carpet business, but he is just as dedicated, if not more.。
Tenzin, who also hails from Gyantse, gave up his stable job in 2014 to set up a carpet factory. "I love this occupation and want to spread its glory."
He has set his sight on innovation and catered to more modern tastes. "We are capable of making carpets with lifelike wedding photos on them using our traditional skills," Tenzin said.。
Last year, the factory's sales revenue topped 7 million yuan thanks to its product and technical innovations, as well as the efforts to diversify sales channels.。
Tenzin's endeavors in this field have helped create many jobs for the locals. Earlier this year, he was awarded for his outstanding contributions to the country's poverty alleviation campaign.。
"To achieve better development, we must continue our innovations and keep up with the times," said Tenzin.。
Even after so many decades, Migmar continues to work with similar passion, arriving early at his factory.。
"Carpet trimming is more than just a job for me," he said. "I really hope that our work can be cherished and treasured by more and more people far beyond our region." Enditem。