Source: (European Commission)
“Check against delivery”
High Representative/Vice President,
Today’s discussion could not come at a more appropriate time.
The political path out of the pandemic for Europe is a clear one – to lead the global community toward a healthier and more equitable present and future.
Team Europe remains at the forefront of international efforts and we have shown leadership and taken decisive steps to advance global health priorities. Undoubtedly, challenges persist.
We know though that there is much more that remains to be done.
We have given financial support of €46 billion to help 130 countries for COVID response and recovery. Almost a quarter of that money – €10 billion – has gone to Africa.
We have co-founded COVAX, with WHO, the global vaccine sharing mechanism, and are lead contributors with over €3 billion pledged. I would like to use this opportunity to thank MEP Zacharopoulou, as co-chair of the COVAX Shareholders Council, for her strong engagement and commitment.
We have managed to reach our goal by the end of 2021 and so far have shared over 407.4 million doses, mainly via COVAX, together with Member States.
Our immediate priority is to step up our contribution.
Our goal to share at least 700 million doses by mid-2022, 200 million financed by the Commission, must be achieved.
Everyone today knows, donating vaccines is one thing. Ensuring we vaccinate people is another, and that equity demands more than donations.
It requires access to doctors, nurses, hospitals, and medical equipment.
It requires scientists, technology and research institutes.
And it requires state-of-the-art manufacturing capabilities.
In Kigali, African ministers communicated a vision of robust health care systems and pharmaceutical capabilities. An Africa ready to cope not just with COVID, but also with malaria, HIV, tuberculosis, neglected tropical diseases, and the deadly diseases of the future.
Less than 10 days away from the EU-AU Summit, we are ready to partner with Africa to make that future a reality.
This work has already begun. We have launched a €100 million initiative to support vaccine deployment in Africa, with an additional €125 million in funding for African countries for vaccination, training, medical equipment and sequencing, announced by President von der Leyen today.
We count on many of you to contribute to this package.
Strengthening health systems and immunisation capacities of the world’s most vulnerable countries must be at the centre of our work. This means we must go beyond COVID-19 vaccines.
At the G20 Global Health Summit, President von der Leyen has announced a Team Europe initiative on manufacturing and access to vaccines, medicines and health technologies in Africa which will be funded with at least €1 billion from the EU budget.
Today, projects are underway in Rwanda, Senegal, South Africa and Ghana. Next week, the new BioNTech project at the Marburg manufacturing site in Germany will be opened and see this pan-African project for regional vaccine manufacturing take off.
Fostering collaboration and the sharing of best practices between HERA as well as ECDC and EMA and their newly established African counterparts will also help strengthen preparedness, surveillance and response capacities.
At the continental level, we will continue supporting the Partnerships for African Vaccine Manufacturing.
And we will simultaneously contribute to the WHO’s initiative to facilitate the transfer of mRNA technology, starting with a hub in South Africa, and more hubs are to follow.
Our next Team Europe initiative is a holistic health support package. It will tackle barriers to manufacturing in Africa from all angles, including access to finance, technology transfer, regulatory frameworks, skills development and know-how.
I know we can count on you, to make this a truly joint effort.
The EU-Africa Summit is rapidly approaching. It is an important political moment in terms of the public health outcomes we want to pursue.
Our goal at the Summit must be to leave with concrete plans for action and partnership with Africa.
Today we are gathered here by the French Presidency to build on how we can further support low and middle income countries – not just in terms of COVID vaccines, but also building substantive, long-term health resilience, and ensuring universal access to essential medicines.
Thank you. I look forward to a fruitful discussion, never forgetting that global health is of common interest to us all.