22 September 2021
President Joe Biden,
Vice-President Kamala Harris,
President Biden allow me to thank you for convening this important summit Covid 19. This coronavirus pandemic has not only led to the untimely death of millions of people around the world but has also destroyed a lot of livelihoods.
I applaud you President Biden for the generosity that has been demonstrated by the United States under your leadership by donating millions of vaccines to several countries around the world to help us cope with this pandemic. South Africa has been very grateful beneficiary of your generosity for which we thank you.
This summit marks an important milestone in our response to the Covid nineteen pandemic to account and vaccinate the world.
South Africa is encouraged that the goals and targets for ending the pandemic are broadly aligned with the key components of the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator.
However, we must take current realities into account.
We have committed to vaccinating at least 70% of the world’s population by next year, but we are now at the end of September and have not reached the 10 per cent target we set ourselves in May.
The gulf is widening between better-resourced nations who are buying up and even hoarding vaccines and developing countries who are struggling to have access to vaccines. The pandemic has revealed the full extent of the vaccine gap between developed and developing economies and how that gap can severely undermine global health security.
Of the around 6 billion vaccine doses administered worldwide, only 2 per cent of these have been administered in Africa, a continent of more than 1,2 billion people. This is unjust and immoral.
Whilst we welcome the donations and sharing of vaccines to developing countries. We however reiterate our proposal that developing countries should be enabled to manufacture their own vaccines as well as to procure them directly. South Africa and India have proposed that the WTO should approve the proposal we have made for the waiver of the TRIPS provision.
With a view to ensuring that African countries would have better access to vaccines all African Union member states signed an agreement through The Africa Vaccine Acquisition Task Team to gain access to 220 million doses of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine.
South Africa will also host the WHO’s first COVID-19 mRNA vaccine technology transfer hub to serve the continent. Other African countries are also building capacity for manufacturing, supported by Partnership for Vaccine Manufacturing in Africa.
This Summit must come up with a sustainable plan on how developing countries will be supported. Not only to meet targets around vaccination, oxygen, diagnostics, personal protective equipment but also for manufacturing.
We must close the financing and supply gap for COVAX, AVATT and other mechanisms.
The greatest lesson we have learned from this pandemic is that fortune favours the prepared.
We support the establishment of a global health Financial Intermediary Fund for pandemic preparedness, as well as a Global Health Threats Council.
Cooperation, collective action and above all consensus, is our greatest strength in the current crisis, and will continue to be so in the future.
I thank you.