Thank you, my sister Gro.
Mr Ted Turner,
My sister Elizabeth,
Distinguished members of the board,
Good morning and good afternoon, and thank you for the opportunity of joining you today.
WHO and the UN Foundation have a longstanding partnership, which we very much value.
I would like to start by thanking you for the incredible support the UN Foundation has given us over the past year.
Just over one year ago, you played a key role in supporting WHO in the launch of the COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund.
This was an unprecedented collaboration to generate funds for the pandemic response, which raised 246 million US dollars from more than 664,000 donors.
This is the first time in its history that WHO has received donations from the general public – so what we did with the UN Foundation is historic.
These funds made a significant impact all over the world.
With your support, we shipped more than 250 million items of personal protective equipment;
Provided technical support to hundreds of laboratories;
Supplied more than 250 million COVID-19 tests;
Coordinated the deployment of more than 180 teams and missions;
Delivered oxygen and supported over 12 thousand intensive care beds to prevent health systems from being overwhelmed;
Provided training through OpenWHO.org, which has more than 5 million registrations for courses in more than 50 languages, from Albanian to Zulu;
And much more.
As you know, the Solidarity Response Fund provided powerful proof of concept for the WHO Foundation, which will run the fund in its next phase.
But as you know, the pandemic is a long way from over.
Despite the approval and rollout of vaccines, we have now seen six consecutive weeks of increasing cases, and three weeks of increasing deaths.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, we knew that vaccines would be a vital tool for controlling it.
But we also knew from experience that market forces alone would not deliver the equitable distribution of vaccines.
That’s why in April last year we established the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator, which includes the COVAX vaccines pillar, a unique partnership between Gavi, CEPI, Unicef, WHO and others.
In total, COVAX has now delivered more than 38 million doses of vaccine to more than 100 countries and economies in the past six weeks.
Still, the rollout of vaccines has not been as equitable as we would have liked.
More than 700 million vaccine doses have been administered globally, but over 87% have gone to high income or upper middle-income countries, while low income countries have received just 0.2%.
This is not just a moral outrage, it’s also economically and epidemiologically self-defeating.
The more transmission, the more variants. And the more variants that emerge, the more likely it is that they will evade vaccines. We could all end up back at square one.
And as long as the virus continues to circulate anywhere, people will continue to die, trade and travel will continue to be disrupted, and the economic recovery will be further delayed.
Vaccine equity is not an act of charity; it’s the best and fastest way to control the pandemic globally, and to reboot the global economy. Vaccine equity is in every nation’s interest.
Every day, we are engaged in discussions with manufacturers and leaders of countries at all income levels, exploring ways to ramp up the production and equitable distribution of vaccines.
The pandemic will recede, but it will not be the last one. We must learn the lessons it is teaching us.
As you know, there is now growing interest globally in the idea of an international treaty for pandemic preparedness and response.
The goals of such a treaty could advance principles that are globally shared:
To build resilience to pandemics and other global health emergencies, with robust national preparedness systems;
to support sustainable funding and capacity for prevention, detection, and responses to outbreaks;
and to ensure equitable access to pandemic countermeasures.
Whatever approach is ultimately taken, the essence of the idea is to foster solidarity and sharing of information, pathogens, tools and technologies.
We’re now engaged in discussions with Member States about how to take this idea forward.
The UN Foundation has not only helped WHO in the COVID response. Your outreach and work with us with the US government is also very important and much appreciated.
Let me leave you with three ways in which we seek your support:
First, we seek your support and advocacy for vaccine equity – specifically, we need countries with enough doses to vaccinate their entire populations several times over to donate those doses to COVAX now, not in several months’ time;
Second, we seek your support and advice for how to capitalize on the success of the Solidarity Response Fund to build a strong WHO Foundation that can help to generate more flexible, predictable and sustainable funding for WHO;
And third, we seek your support and advocacy for the pandemic preparedness and response treaty, and for the centrality of WHO’s role in leading it.
Thank you once again for the opportunity to join you today. We very much value our partnership with the UN Foundation, and we look forward to strengthening that partnership in the year ahead.
Thank you Elizabeth, back to you.