PRESS BRIEFING BY BRENDEN VARMA, SPOKESPERSON FOR GENERAL ASSEMBLY PRESIDENT VOLKAN BOZKIR

PRESIDENT CALLS FOR MULTILATERAL APPROACH TO PANDEMIC RESPONSE, AS SPECIAL SESSION ON COVID-19 ENTERS 2ND DAY

  • Today is the second and final day of the General Assembly’s special session on COVID-19.
  • In his opening remarks, the President said that, yesterday, Member State statements, which were delivered at the highest political level, showed the need for a comprehensive multilateral approach to combat a disease, which does not recognize borders.
  • The focus of the special session today is a series of interactive dialogues. It is a day of learning and a time to hear from experts and actors who are working to fight COVID-19.
  • The three dialogues are focusing on: the health and humanitarian response to the pandemic; the road to a COVID-19 vaccine, which is the key to unlocking recovery; and how to ‘recover better’ from the pandemic’s socio-economic impact.

INTERACTIVE PANELS ON COVID-19 EXAMINE U.N. RESPONSE, VACCINES & SOCIO-ECONOMIC IMPACTS

  • The first panel, which just finished now, was dedicated to examining the UN system response. It was moderated by the UN’s Under-Secretary-General for Global Communications and featured the heads of WHO, OCHA, OHCHR, UNDP, UNHCR, WFP, Save the Children International and the Kenya Red Cross Society, who was representing IFRC and ICRC.
  • Starting momentarily, we will have the second panel – entitled: “The Road to a COVID-19 Vaccine – a Global Public Good.” Moderated by the BBC’s Lyse Doucet, it will feature speakers from BioNTech, Oxford University, GAVI, UNICEF and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI).
  • A third panel – on resilience and recovering better – will start at 3:45 p.m. Moderated by international journalist Femi Oke, it will feature the heads of UNFPA, UN Women and ILO, among others.
  • All of these panel discussions are being shown on webtv.un.org.

MEMBER STATE SPEECHES ON COVID-19 TO BE HEARD THIS EVENING

  • In terms of statements by Member States, 105 were delivered in the General Assembly Hall yesterday. Because not all were able to be heard, the Assembly decided to move remaining statements to this evening, following the interactive panels.   
  • Statements by Member States and Permanent Observers will therefore start at 6:00 this evening.
  • Forty-seven speakers remain on the list.
  • In terms of other changes to the programme, the President of the Security Council will now be delivering a statement during the closing segment.
  • The special session will end at 9:00 p.m. today.
  • Asked if any countries had committed to raising money for COVAX, the Spokesperson said it was not for him to comment on Member State statements. Her urged the journalist to watch the videos that had been shared by Member States on UN Web TV to find the answer to his question.

PRESIDENT TAKES WHITE HOUSE COVID-19 COORDINATOR TO GENERAL ASSEMBLY HALL

  • The Spokesperson was asked for more details of the President’s meeting the previous day with a delegation from the United States, which included Dr. Deborah Birx, White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator. He was asked what the US delegation had intended to convey and whether it had presented a proposal related to vaccines.
  • The Spokesperson said he had nothing to add to what the President had already tweeted from both his official and personal Twitter accounts.
  • He did note, however, that the President had showed Dr. Birx the General Assembly Hall – so that she could see how the UN was approaching business continuity during the pandemic. Regarding what the US had been intending to convey during the meeting, the Spokesperson advised the journalist to ask the US Mission.