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24 October 2021

Vaccine Nationalism, Hoarding Putting Us All at Risk, Secretary‑General Tells World Health Summit, Warning COVID‑19 Will Not Be Last Global Pandemic

Following is the text of UN Secretary‑General António Guterres’ video message to the World Health Summit, held in Berlin from 24 to 26 October:

This year’s World Health Summit arrives at a time when health systems around the world have been shattered by COVID‑19.  Our commitment to achieving health for all has never been more important.

Building forward better means strengthening primary health systems at the community level and achieving universal health coverage, so people can receive a range of services — no matter who they are or where they live.  It means embracing a “One Health” approach to integrate human, animal and environmental health to protect people and our planet, while preventing future health emergencies.

And most urgently, it means ending the COVID‑19 pandemic.  The triumph of the vaccines — developed and brought to market in record speed — is being undone by the tragedy of an unequal distribution.  Three quarters of all vaccines have gone to high- and upper-middle-income countries.  Vaccine nationalism and hoarding are putting us all at risk.  This means more deaths.  More shattered health systems.  More economic misery.  And a perfect environment for variants to take hold and spread.

Earlier this month, I joined [World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General] Dr. Tedros [Adhanom Ghebreyesus] to launch the Global COVID‑19 Vaccination Strategy.  A credible and costed plan to get vaccines into the arms of 40 per cent of people in all countries by the end of this year — and 70 per cent by the middle of 2022.

We need manufacturers and countries alike to fulfil their dose-sharing pledges — including through swaps — and share the technology and intellectual property that can allow more countries to produce vaccines.  We need an immediate infusion of $8 billion to ensure that distribution is equitable — and we call on the G20 to help us get there.  And we need a modern and funded pandemic preparedness architecture that can prevent the mistakes we’re making now from ever happening again.

COVID‑19 will not be the last pandemic we face.  But it can be the last one we fail.  It’s essential to increase the resources and authority of WHO.  At this year’s World Health Summit, let’s move from alarm to action.  And let’s deliver the stronger health systems that every person deserves.

For information media. Not an official record.