Currently COVID-19 still has a firm grip on the world. Nevertheless, we need to acknowledge that this will not be the last pandemic.
We therefore welcome the opportunity to discuss the recommendations of the IPPPR today - they are a relevant contribution to the ongoing discussions on improving pandemic preparedness.
Significant steps and commitments have been made in recent times, particularly at the Global Health Summit, in the common principles of the Rome declaration
These commitments are an important starting point to bring UN Member States together on this crucial topic.
Let me reiterate: global cooperation and solidarity is crucial for effectively fighting the COVID-19 pandemic - and every pandemic to come. The EU is fully playing its part and has been leading the multilateral response through the Team Europe approach:
As a leading contributor with more than €3 billion for the COVAX Facility to help secure at least 1.8 billion vaccine doses for 92 low and lower middle-income countries. Over 136 million doses have already been delivered by COVAX.
The EU has exported half of the vaccines produced in Europe to other countries of the world, as much as it has delivered for its own citizens.
To complement COVAX’s efforts, we will be sharing more than 200 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines with low and middle-income countries by the end of this year, and:
We also have worked with our European industrial partners – BioNTech-Pfizer, Moderna and J&J – to make vaccine doses available for low- and middle-income countries, rapidly. At the Global Health Summit, they pledged 1,3 billion vaccine doses in 2021 to low-income countries at production-cost and middle-income countries at low cost. On top of this, more than 1 billion doses have been committed for 2022.
Team Europe will further invest in boosting manufacturing capacity in Africa. Beginning of July, Senegal and Team Europe agreed to build a manufacturing plant to produce vaccines against COVID-19 and other diseases. Additionally, just last week an agreement was reached that a South African firm would produce BioNTech-Pfizer vaccines.
Let me share a further look into the future:
We must draw lessons from the pandemic – COVID-19 will not have been the last one! We also need to address the severe impacts the pandemic had on health services in general and sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights in particular.
No single government or multilateral agency can adequately address such threats alone. Together, we must be better prepared to act and react in a highly coordinated manner.
For this, we need a fundamental reset of our health security framework, preserving what works well and improve on what does not. We need a strengthened WHO and we need to improve the health architecture.
The IPPPR proposed a new treaty and we very much welcome that the World Health Assembly in May decided to discuss options around a new international treaty on pandemics or a legal instrument at the special WHA session in November.
Such collective commitment would be a milestone in lifting pandemic preparedness to the highest political level. It would be rooted in the constitution of the World Health Organization, drawing in other relevant organizations key to this endeavour. Existing global health instruments, would underpin such a treaty, ensuring a firm and tested foundation.
The valuable work of the IPPPR is a good starting point for further evidence-based discussions - alongside the work of the other three independent review bodies, which were set up - including in the context of the G20.
We welcome, that based on the reports of the different panels, the Working Group on Strengthening WHO Preparedness and Response to Health Emergencies started its work two weeks ago to prepare a report in November on the feasibility of an international instrument and in the longer term to agree actions to strengthen WHO.
We will need to ensure that possible new instruments and/or institutions are complementary to the existing system, and provide clear added value without duplicating existing structures or fragmenting the role of WHO.
And we are convinced that an important element needs to be creating adequate incentives to mobilize private funding for investment in global Pandemic Preparedness and Response.
We think pandemic preparedness and a pandemic treaty should figure prominently in the UN Secretary General’s Common Agenda report, as the follow-up of the UN at 75.
We can make the world a safer place, being better prepared for future pandemics.
The EU will remain a reliable partner in pandemic preparedness!