Following are UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina J. Mohammed’s remarks at the round table “Investing in COVID-19 vaccines and primary health care delivery systems”, today:
More than a million lives have been lost to the COVID‑19 virus. Many others have suffered or died due to a breakdown in essential services, lost livelihoods, increasing food insecurity and poverty.
The pandemic is undermining our efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals and secure universal health coverage. Governments have deployed trillions of dollars in economic stimulus packages, as the pandemic wreaks havoc on economies around the world.
The COVID-19 pandemic will need a global response to address both the health and the economic impact. Safe and effective vaccines, diagnostics and therapeutics for all people in all countries will be vital to conquer the virus. There is a path out of the pandemic, built on strong health systems that is underpinned by robust primary health care, without which we cannot deliver a vaccine effectively.
The United Nations and partners, such as the World Bank, are working together to make sure vaccines, tests and treatments are available to everyone, everywhere. A vaccine must be a global public good. We commend the World Bank for making available $12 billion in financing to countries to access these new tools.
We applaud the Access to COVID‑19 Tools - or ACT - Accelerator and its COVAX Facility, which represent our best chance for the world to beat this pandemic and ensure all people have access. It is a prime example of multilateralism in action for the global public good.
And it’s already working, based on initial seed funding. One hundred and twenty million affordable, high‑quality rapid tests have been made available for low- and middle‑income countries. We now have treatments, which significantly reduces mortality in serious COVID‑19 cases. And on the vaccine side, the COVAX Facility represents the largest pool of vaccine options in the world with more than 170 countries now engaged.
Equitable access to new vaccines is critical because initial supply will be limited. Health‑care workers on the front line, the elderly and those most vulnerable must benefit first. That is the fastest way to break the trajectory of this pandemic.
To build on the success of the ACT-‑Accelerator, the world has to raise an additional $34 billion. Ultimately this is the best stimulus package because it offers a way out of the pandemic, which has already cost the world trillions. At the same time, we must take the opportunity to invest in universal health care. It will help strengthen primary health care, ensuring a better recovery.
If we act together, we will overcome this together and build a stronger and more resilient future for all. Thank you.