Globally, we continue to see encouraging signs in the trajectory of the pandemic.
The number of new cases of COVID-19 reported to WHO has now declined for six weeks, and deaths have declined for five weeks.
However, we still see a mixed picture around the world.
The number of deaths reported last week increased in three out of WHO’s six regions: Africa, the Americas and the Western Pacific.
Increasingly, we see a two-track pandemic: many countries still face an extremely dangerous situation, while some of those with the highest vaccination rates are starting to talk about ending restrictions.
In countries with the greatest access to vaccines, we are seeing a decline in mortality among older age groups.
In these countries, the public health and social measures that have helped to protect people are being eased, but they must be eased cautiously, and adjusted in line with viral circulation and response capacities.
With the increased global transmission of variants of concern including the Delta variant, lifting restrictions too quickly could be disastrous for those who are not vaccinated.
But many countries don’t have that option, because they don’t have enough vaccines. In these countries, the continued use of tailored public health measures is the best way to suppress transmission.
The inequitable distribution of vaccines has allowed the virus to continue spreading, increasing the chances of a variant emerging that renders vaccines less effective.
Six months since the first vaccines were administered, high-income countries have administered almost 44% of the world’s doses. Low-income countries have administered just 0.4%.
The most frustrating thing about this statistic is that it hasn’t changed in months.
Inequitable vaccination is a threat to all nations, not just those with the fewest vaccines.
Several countries have made significant pledges to share doses. We’re grateful to those countries and we look forward to those pledges being fulfilled in June and July.
At the World Health Assembly, I called for a massive global effort to vaccinate at least 10% of the population of all countries by September, and at least 30% by the end of the year.
To reach these targets, we need an additional 250 million doses by September, and we need 100 million doses just in June and July.
This weekend, the leaders of G7 countries will meet for their annual summit.
These seven nations have the power to meet these targets. I am calling on the G7 not just to commit to sharing doses, but to commit to sharing them in June and July.
I also call on all manufacturers to give COVAX first right of refusal on new volume of vaccines, or to commit 50% of their volumes to COVAX this year.
COVAX is the best way to distribute vaccines quickly and equitably.
Sharing vaccines now is essential for ending the acute phase of the pandemic.
But it’s also clear that in an emergency, low-income countries cannot rely solely on imports of vaccines from wealthier nations.
Investing in local production is critical, for COVID-19 vaccines and for producing routine immunizations and other health products.
Two months ago, the African Union launched the Partnership for African Vaccine Manufacturing, and several countries are making progress.
I hope that some manufacturing sites will be identified and at least close to producing vaccines by the end of this year.
Boosting manufacturing does not happen overnight, but the sooner we invest, the sooner production can start.
At the World Health Assembly, Member States adopted a resolution asking WHO to further support countries to scale-up local production.
WHO will support countries to help identify bottlenecks, provide solutions and develop production acceleration plans.
Two months ago, WHO also issued a call for Expressions of Interest to establish an mRNA technology transfer hub, to facilitate increased global production of mRNA vaccines.
We have received expressions of interest from a number of companies interested in transferring their technology and from a number of countries wanting to receive the technology and set up production plants.
We are conducting a technical review and will soon engage in discussion with Member States and partners to start implementation
We continue to call on companies with mRNA technology to share it through the COVID-19 Technology Access Pool – the result can be a win-win for both the owner of the know-how as well as for public health.
The biggest barrier to ending the pandemic remains sharing: of doses, of resources, of technology.
This week marks 40 years since the first cases of AIDS were documented by scientists.
Four decades later, HIV can be treated, but there’s still no vaccine and no cure.
Just 18 months after COVID-19 first emerged, we have many effective tools to prevent, detect and treat it.
As for HIV, the real test is not developing the tools, it’s using them where they’re needed most.
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