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SG/SM/20621
11 March 2021

One Year into Pandemic, Secretary-General Notes Continuing Vaccine Hoarding, Side Deals by Wealthier Countries, Undermining Access for All

Following is UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ statement on the COVID‑19 pandemic, one year on, today:

One full year into the COVID-19 pandemic, our world has faced a tsunami of suffering.  So many lives have been lost.  Economies have been upended and societies left reeling.  The most vulnerable have suffered the most.  Those left behind are being left even further behind.

It has been a year of empty office buildings, quiet streets and closed schools in much of the world.  I commend women, men and young people everywhere for adapting to work, learn and live in new ways.  I honour health workers for their dedication and sacrifice and all other essential workers who have kept societies running.  I salute all those who have stood up to the deniers and disinformation and have followed science and safety protocols.  You have helped save lives.

The United Nations will continue mobilizing the international community to make vaccines affordable and available for all, to recover better, and to put a special focus on the needs of those who have borne the burden of this crisis on so many levels — women, minorities, older persons, persons with disabilities, refugees, migrants and indigenous peoples.

With the vaccine roll-out, there’s some light at the end of the tunnel.  COVAX — the global vaccine equity mechanism — has started delivery around the world, including to some of the lowest-income countries.  Yet I am deeply concerned that many low-income countries have not yet received a single dose, while wealthier countries are on track to vaccinating their entire population.  We see many examples of vaccine nationalism and vaccine hoarding in wealthier countries — as well as continued side deals with manufacturers that undermine access for all.

The global vaccination campaign represents the greatest moral test of our times.  It is also essential to restart the global economy — and help the world move from locking down societies to locking down the virus.  COVID-19 vaccines must be seen as a global public good.  The world needs to unite to produce and distribute sufficient vaccines for all, which means at least doubling manufacturing capacity around the world.

That effort must start now.  Only together can we end this pandemic and recover.  Only together can we revive our economies.  And then, together, we can all get back to the things we love.

For information media. Not an official record.