First, I would like to extend a very warm welcome to Minister Schulze and our friends from Germany,
As you all know, Germany has been an important friend and longstanding partner to WHO, and in fact it is now WHO’s largest donor.
We are grateful for Germany’s leadership and steadfast support throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as its efforts to forge a stronger multilateral health system, with a strong WHO at the center.
In addition to my meeting today with Minister Schulze, I also had a very good call last week with the new Minister of Health, His Excellency Karl Lauterbach.
And last year, I was honoured to join former Chancellor Angela Merkel to open the WHO Hub for Pandemic and Epidemic Intelligence in Berlin, which will play a vital role in fostering greater sharing of data and information between countries.
In its newly adopted programme for the G7 presidency, Germany has made an admirable commitment to the equitable distribution of vaccines and other COVID-tools to help end the pandemic; support for health system strengthening in lower-income countries; and bolstering the global health architecture, which includes securing reliable and sustainable financing for WHO.
We look forward to working together to achieve these ambitious, critical goals.
I am also pleased to note Germany’s recognition of the importance of Planetary Health, which addresses the intimate relationships between humans, animals, and our environment.
This is also key to tackling the growing threat from antimicrobial resistance. These, of course, are also key priorities for WHO.
And Germany’s support of mRNA vaccine manufacturing in Africa goes hand-in-hand with WHO’s work to develop self-sufficient vaccine production capacity.
This is a wise investment in global health security that has the potential to provide huge benefits to underserved communities.
All of these are a testament to Germany’s visionary approach, which is rooted in partnership, solidarity and multilateralism.
These qualities are more important than ever, because the COVID-19 pandemic is now entering its third year, and we are at a critical juncture.
We must work together to bring the acute phase of this pandemic to an end. We cannot let it continue to drag on, lurching between panic and neglect.
We have all of the tools to end the acute phase of this pandemic. But we have to use them equitably and wisely.
Vaccine inequity is a problem we saw coming: our experience with HIV, the H1N1 flu pandemic and other global health challenges has taught us that market forces alone will not achieve equity.
That’s why we set up the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator and its COVAX pillar.
ACT-A is a landmark global partnership we initiated at the beginning of the pandemic, which brings together a diverse group of partners and stakeholders, to accelerate the development and equitable distribution of diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines.
Germany has been a leader in both the scale and nature of its financing for ACT A, going above and beyond, in its support for life-saving tools such as testing, oxygen, and PPE.
The ACT Accelerator and COVAX can change the course of this pandemic. But they only work with full commitment and funding.
Germany’s efforts are an example for all.
Because we still have a long road ahead.
COVAX has now delivered one billion doses of vaccines, but we still are still far from reaching 70% coverage in all countries.
34 countries have still not been able to vaccinate 10% of their population, and 86 have vaccinated less than 40%.
And of course, vaccines alone will not end the pandemic. Many countries need diagnostics, life-saving therapeutics – including oxygen, and support for vaccine rollout.
Only by working together in solidarity can we bring this pandemic to a close. And it is in everybody’s interest to do so, because as the pandemic has shown, when health is at risk, everything is at risk.
But when health is protected and promoted, it creates a stable foundation for individuals, families, communities, economies and nations to thrive.
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