On behalf of the U.S. Government, I’m delighted to join forces with Gavi for the 2021 Investment Opportunity in support of COVAX’s Advance Market Commitment which will finance access to safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines for people around the world.
But this isn’t just an opportunity – it’s an imperative. From day one, President Biden has made stopping COVID-19 the top priority of the Biden-Harris administration and ensuring broad and equitable access to vaccines is an essential part of achieving that goal.
To that end, the U.S. Government contributed $2 billion to Gavi in support of COVAX in March – the largest donation COVAX has ever received. And we’ll contribute an additional $2 billion to this effort through 2022, because people everywhere should have access to rigorously tested, safe, and effective COVID-19 vaccines. And because we recognize that as long as COVID is spreading and replicating anywhere, it poses a threat to people everywhere.
We applaud the other countries who have made and delivered pledges, which have put us on track to meet Gavi’s initial goal to deliver vaccines to at least 20 percent of people in 92 low- and middle-income countries by the end of the year.
But to beat this pandemic, we need to aim higher, much higher. With $2 billion more to COVAX, we can reach approximately 30 percent of people in target countries, rather than 20 percent. Just think for a moment of all the people whose lives would be impacted by hitting that higher target.
That’s not all we must do. We need to produce more safe, effective vaccines, and we need to distribute them more rapidly. So, we call on partners to work alongside Gavi to support urgent vaccine manufacturing, supply, and delivery needs. We also need to make sure people have access to reliable diagnostics and safe and effective therapies to further bend the curve. And we have to mitigate the secondary impacts of COVID like hunger. The faster we do all this the more lives we save, the quicker we can safely reopen our schools and businesses, and the quicker our communities and economies can recover.
And at the same time, we need to help countries boost their pandemic preparedness so we can better detect, prevent, prepare for, and respond to future pandemics and other biological threats – because we can’t afford to let history repeat itself.
The U.S. Congress recently provided more than $11 billion for America’s global COVID response, and we intend to put those resources towards meeting these urgent goals. And we recently named a coordinator for global COVID response and health security, Gayle Smith, to lead America’s efforts on this front.
As we act, let’s not lose sight of the human stakes of getting this right. In Nigeria, the first person to get a vaccine from COVAX was a doctor named Ngon Cyprion. He works at the National Hospital in Abuja. He lost many colleagues to the virus. He also lost his own father. On the day he received the vaccine, he was elated, saying quote, “I dreamt of taking this vaccine.” But he also said, and I quote, “We will be much happier when almost all of us in Nigeria have gotten the vaccine. I want to see a lot more being done.”
We all want to see a lot more being done – by governments, multilateral organizations, the private sector, foundations, and other partners. The health of everyone in all our countries depends on it. Thank you.