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SG/SM/21137

Calling Vaccine Inequity ‘Biggest Moral Failure of Our Times’, Secretary-General Says Focus Must Be on Fairness, in COVID-19 Tools Accelerator Launch Remarks

Following are UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ remarks to the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator (ACT-Accelerator) campaign launch, held virtually, today:

I am pleased to join all of you to launch this resource mobilization campaign for the ACT-Accelerator.  I thank you for putting the focus on fairness.  If we want to ensure vaccinations for everyone to end this pandemic, we must first inject fairness into the system.

We are entering the third year of the pandemic — and the world is still far from meeting crucial targets:  to vaccinate the globe; to increase testing; to make life‑saving effective treatments available for all who need it; to protect our front‑line health-care workers with quality personal protection equipment.

Vaccine inequity is the biggest moral failure of our times — and people and countries are paying the price.  The good news is that recent progress shows how we can deliver when we have the resources and come together.

Vaccine supply and roll-out is ramping up exponentially and we are making up for lost time in many countries.  The end of this pandemic can be within our sights — this year.  We can get the economic recovery back on track and rescue the Sustainable Development Goals.  But, we need to act now.

Vaccines, tests and effective treatments are available.  Yet, many low- and middle-income countries are still not getting enough of these pandemic-ending tools to protect their families and communities — and our world.  Until and unless we can ensure access to these tools, the pandemic will not go away, and the sense of insecurity of people will only deepen.  We have the systems to accelerate the roll-out of these essential tools.

The United Nations family has decades of experience working with countries and communities in crisis.  United Nations agencies — led by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) — have the know-how to help Governments turn vaccines into vaccination, tests into testing, and treatments into effective clinical care for patients.

But, we cannot access the tools — without first accessing the resources to support countries to achieve global vaccination, testing and treatment targets.  The ACT-Accelerator provides a costed, coordinated and credible path out of the COVID-19 pandemic for everyone, everywhere.  This needs to be financed by fair share contributions from countries.

Above all, we need urgent investment in timely vaccine delivery and increasing testing.  This is a matter of fairness — but also it is a matter of justice — and it is a matter of plain old common sense.

We can end the pandemic this year.  We have the pathway to get there.  But, we can only get there together.  It is all up to us — and it all comes down to fairness.  Thank you and I wish this meeting the best possible success to the benefit of humankind.

For information media. Not an official record.