4 June 2020

Everyone, Everywhere Must Have Access to Eventual COVID-19 Immunization, Secretary-General Says in Video Message for Global Vaccine Summit

Following is the text of UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ video message to the Global Vaccine Summit, in New York today:

Today, we celebrate the life‑saving miracle of a vaccination.  The most important public health intervention in history.  Saving tens of millions of lives each year.  Eradicating diseases like smallpox.  Preventing diseases like measles, rubella and tetanus.

But, we also meet at an uncertain time.  COVID-19 is the greatest public health crisis of our generation.  Right now, there is no vaccine.  As we work together to develop one, there is an important lesson we need to understand.

A vaccine, by itself, is not enough.  We need global solidarity to ensure that every person, everywhere, has access.  A COVID-19 vaccine must be seen as a global public good — a people’s vaccine, which a growing number of world leaders are calling for.

Let’s learn from the incredible work of Gavi, the vaccine alliance.   Thanks to the alliance partners, people of all ages and income levels in all countries can access vaccines.  The United Nations is proud to be part of this effort towards universal health coverage.  And we are committed to being part of the next phase.  Because there is still much work to do.

Twenty million children are missing their full complement of vaccines.  And 1 in 5 has received no vaccines at all.  Now, under the shadow of COVID-19, their plight is even more desperate.  Immunization campaigns are being halted.  The gaps in global vaccine delivery could grow wider.

So, as we meet today, let us make three key commitments.  First, let’s find safe ways to continue delivering vaccinations, even as COVID-19 spreads.  Second, let’s use the networks of vaccine-delivery to deliver a range of other primary health services.  And third, when a COVID-19 vaccine becomes available, let’s make sure it reaches everyone.

Disease know no borders.  That is why a fully funded Gavi will be critical to ensure we continue to progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals.  Thank you.

For information media. Not an official record.