Following is the text of UN Secretary‑General António Guterres’ video message marking the two millionth global death from COVID-19, today:
Our world has reached a heart-wrenching milestone: The COVID-19 pandemic has now claimed 2 million lives. Behind this staggering number are names and faces. The smile that is now only a memory, the seat forever empty at the dinner table and the room that echoes with the silence of a loved one.
Sadly, the deadly impact of the pandemic has been made worse by the absence of a global coordinated effort. In the memory of those 2 million souls, the world must act with far greater solidarity.
Now is the time. Safe, effective COVID-19 vaccines are being rolled out, and the United Nations is supporting countries to mobilize the largest global immunization effort in history. We are committed to making sure that vaccines are seen as global public goods — people’s vaccines. That requires full funding for the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator and its COVAX facility, which is dedicated to making vaccines available and affordable to all.
The world’s leading economies have a special responsibility. Yet, today, we are seeing a vaccine vacuum. Vaccines are reaching high income countries quickly, while the world’s poorest have none at all. Science is succeeding, but solidarity is failing. Some countries are pursuing side deals, even procuring beyond need.
Governments have a responsibility to protect their populations, but “vaccinationalism” is self-defeating and will delay a global recovery. COVID-19 cannot be beaten one country at a time. We need manufacturers to step up their commitment to work with the COVAX facility and countries around the world to ensure enough supply and fair distribution. We need countries to commit now to sharing excess doses of vaccines.
This would help vaccinate all health‑care workers around the world on an urgent basis and protect health systems from collapse. Others on the front line, including humanitarian workers and high-risk populations, must be prioritized. To gain public trust, we must also boost vaccine confidence and knowledge with effective communication grounded in facts.
As the science continues to blaze new trails of hope, let’s also remember the simple and proven steps we can all take to keep each other safe: Wearing masks, physically distancing and avoiding crowds.
Our world can only get ahead of this virus one way — together. Global solidarity will save lives, protect people and help defeat this vicious virus.