“We need a game change in our global health architecture, so that the international community can respond to future pandemics collectively, effectively and immediately. Today’s decision of the World Health Assembly will therefore make history. The situation and our citizens demand it: we need to strengthen pandemic prevention, preparedness and response if we do not want to find ourselves in a similar situation in the future. Only multilateral cooperation can achieve this,” says Ambassador Lotte Knudsen, Head of the EU Delegation to the European Union in Geneva, where a lot of the preparation work towards today’s agreement has been taken place, in close cooperation with the 27 EU Member States, the Group of Friends of a Pandemic Treaty and the wider WHO membership. “We are only at the beginning of the process and there is still a challenging road ahead of us before this legal framework will be in place, but together we need to capitalize on the momentum we have created today. We call for an ambitious process in developing this treaty - let us all demonstrate our multilateral commitment and engagement towards a binding instrument. This success is also important for WHO, given its pivotal role in global health.”
Since the outset of the pandemic, the European Union has been at the forefront to find multilateral solutions to the response to Covid-19. Global cooperation and solidarity is paramount when responding to a virus that knows no borders. “If another pandemic strikes we need to ensure that we have the vaccines and other counter-measures quickly in place,” emphasizes Ambassador Knudsen. “And of course we must ensure equitable access to vaccines, something we have underlined since the beginning.”
Throughout the pandemic, the EU has remained fair and open to the world. It has exported 50% of the vaccines produced in the EU. Over 700 million doses of vaccines have been exported to more than 130 different countries in the world - as many as have been delivered to EU citizens. As Team Europe, we donated 3.2 billion euro to the COVAX global vaccine sharing mechanism. The EU and its Member States work hard to achieve the global vaccination target of 70% in 2022 as agreed at the recent G20 Summit, also investing heavily in vaccine manufacturing in Africa and engaging with South America.