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Experts call for true and effective multilateralism based on science and facts

The pandemic will reshape our way of life for years to come, making it necessary to establish global cooperation mechanisms, said Margaret Chan, founding dean of Tsinghua Vanke School of Public Health and former Director-General of the World Health Organization, at a panel discussion during the 2021 Imperial Springs International Forum.

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However, the international cooperation, especially between major powers, is still being affected by political discord. Jeffrey Sachs, director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University and Sustainable Development Goals Advocates of UN Secretary-General, expressed his disappointment with the US approach to its relations with China and its response to the pandemic.

“It is one of the saddest features of this epidemic that there is no curiosity in the United States about how China has done this. The United States’ political system is so arrogant and so closed-minded that it does not want to learn from others. It does not want to discuss in a civil way,” said Sachs.

He urged countries to establish “science cooperation fund for research and development of vaccines and testing therapeutics in a cooperative way”, especially with institutions or laboratories in Africa, Latin America, and central Asia, where research capacity is weak.

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Zhang Wenhong, director of China National Infectious Disease Medical Center and of Infectious Disease Department at Huashan Hospital Affiliated to Fudan University, pointed out that less than a quarter of global vaccine campaigns were completed, thus making it difficult for many countries to build up an immunity barrier.

“How we collaborate at a global level is critical for containing the pandemic. I believe that in the future, more countries will join hands to tackle this extremely difficult virus. This will be the focus of our future work,” said Zhang.

Chan stressed that the international community should collaborate on the basis of true and effective multilateralism, which “requires us to work across sectors, to have a holistic thinking, and to innovate and integrate all these important dimensions, based on science and facts.”

After all, Chan furthered, “it is our collective responsibility to build back a better, fairer, happier, and more sustainable future”.

Author | Lydia Liu

Photographer | Keane

Editor | Keane, Jerry

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