Following is the text of Secretary-General António Guterres’ video remarks to the high-level thematic debate on “Galvanizing Momentum for Universal Vaccination”, in New York today:
Mr. President of the General Assembly, Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,
Let me begin by thanking the President of the General Assembly for convening this critical meeting focused on galvanizing momentum for universal vaccination.
We have the tools and the know-how to end the COVID-19 pandemic this year. But we have a long way to go. We are nowhere near meeting the WHO [World Health Organization] goal to vaccinate 70 per cent of people in all countries by the middle of this year.
Yes, over 10 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered globally. But this number masks the stark inequity in vaccine access. High-income countries have administered 13 times more doses per person than low-income countries. Eighty-five per cent of the people of Africa have not received a single vaccine dose.
This inequity is a moral indictment of our times. It costs lives. It damages economies. And it gives the virus free reign to circulate unchecked and mutate, eroding hard-won gains and threatening the whole world.
Ending the pandemic requires ensuring access to tests, vaccines and treatments for everyone, everywhere. In recent months, deliveries of COVID-19 vaccines have been steadily increasing. This month marked COVAX’s delivery of 1 billion doses to 92 low- and middle-income countries.
But much more is needed. Galvanizing momentum means countries fulfilling and accelerating vaccine dose-sharing and donation commitments to COVAX with better quality of supply. It means manufacturers prioritizing and fulfilling vaccine contracts with COVAX, ensuring full transparency on monthly production and creating the conditions for the local or regional production of tests, vaccines and treatments.
This includes pharmaceutical companies more rapidly sharing licences, know-how and technology. Regional production is critical for sustainable supply. It means significant investments in fragile health and economic infrastructure. It means donors and international financial institutions stepping up with the necessary support. And it means fighting the plague of vaccine misinformation.
We have seen hopeful progress when supply is secured and predictable … when doses are donated with ample shelf-life … and when there is a deep understanding of what a country needs to accelerate vaccinations.
Let’s build on that momentum together. In the coming days, weeks and months let us use every opportunity — through the G20, the World Health Assembly, the G7 and the General Assembly — to mobilize ambitious action to meet the WHO vaccination strategy targets and ensure no one is left behind. If we do it right, we won’t just end this pandemic, we will begin a truly meaningful effort to prevent future ones and build a safer, healthier world for all.