Your Excellency Minister
Your Excellency Minister
And our moderator, Sergey Brilev,
Excellencies, distinguished guests, dear colleagues and friends,
The COVID-19 pandemic has shown that pandemic preparedness is not just a job for the health sector.
It has affected every part of our societies and our economies and highlighted the intimate links between the health of humans, animals and our planet.
The development of safe and effective vaccines in record time has given us light at the end of the tunnel.
But gross inequities undermine this achievement.
Of the 1.8 billion doses administered globally, only 0.4% have been administered in low-income countries.
The consequences of this disparity are clear: cases and deaths from COVID-19 globally remain high, even as new variants of concern are emerging.
The more the virus circulates, the more likely it is that variants will emerge that render vaccines less effective, setting us back even further.
Inequitable vaccination is a threat to all countries, not just those with the fewest vaccines.
We have the mechanisms in place, like the COVAX Facility, to make this happen. COVAX works. But it needs full support.
As vaccination rates increase, the public health and social measures that have helped to protect people can begin to be eased, but they must be eased cautiously. Lifting them too quickly could be dangerous.
But the best way to fight pandemics and epidemics is to stop them before they start.
Countries can only truly keep their own people safe if they are accountable to each other at the international level, which means openly sharing data, information, technology and resources.
A treaty would foster improved sharing, trust and accountability, and help to strengthen national, regional and global capacities for global health security.
The pandemic is teaching us all many lessons. Let me leave you with three:
First, in our interconnected world, no one is safe until everyone is safe. Ensuring equitable access to safe, effective and quality-assured vaccines is the best way to end the pandemic, restore confidence and drive a truly global recovery.
Second, the pandemic has reminded us of the intimate links between the health of humans, animals and the planet that sustains us. We can only protect human health with a
Third, the pandemic has taught us that health is not a luxury for those can afford it, or simply an outcome of development; it's a human right, and a prerequisite for social, economic and political stability.
Ultimately, the best defence against disease outbreaks is strong health systems, built on primary health care and community engagement, with universal health coverage as the goal.
Health is not a cost; it's an investment in a healthier, safer, fairer and more sustainable future.
I thank you, and I wish you a productive discussion.