WHA 2021: U.S. Statement on the Global Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic
World Health Organization (WHO)
74th World Health Assembly
Geneva, Switzerland – Virtual Meeting
May 25, 2021
As Delivered by Jeremy Konyndyk
Senior Advisor, USAID
Pillar 2, Group 1 Statement by the United States of America
COVID-19 Response (17.1)
The United States thanks the Secretariat for the reports on WHO’s response to COVID-19, and we recognize and appreciate WHO’s tireless efforts to support Member States throughout this pandemic.
COVID-19 continues to demonstrate in the starkest manner that no nation is able to combat a pandemic alone. Multilateralism and global cooperation are crucial to prepare for, and respond to, and recover from global health threats.
The United States appreciates the leadership of so many countries that have rallied toward the global response. we dramatically expand our global efforts to fight the pandemic, and we are committed to doing so in close partnership with WHO.
Global access to COVID-19 vaccines is particularly critical as Bruce and Mike mentioned to control the pandemic, slow the spread of new and emerging SARS-CoV-2 variants, saving lives, and restarting the global economy. As announced last week by President Biden, the United States will continue to support COVAX and play a leading role in the international vaccination effort and will donate 80 million vaccine doses, beginning next month, to help countries battling the pandemic.
We intend to work with COVAX as a primary partner in the distribution of these vaccines, and will share these doses to help expand equitable vaccine access and offset disruptions to COVAX’s supply.
This decision builds on the United States robust existing response including addressing intellectual property and providing $11.5 billion to support the global fight against the pandemic. We also welcome the important role of the ACT-Accelerator, and are proud to be the largest single donor supporting COVAX.
We must also not lose sight of the immediate priority of also reducing transmission and improving clinical care – the critical steps to reducing deaths in the immediate months ahead. And the US will provide robust support to countries’ ability to effectively treat severe cases, including support to expand effective oxygen therapy which as Bruce noted is so important.
Finally, we underscore the importance of a robust, comprehensive, and expert-led inquiry into the origins of COVID-19 which is central to ensuring we are prepared to mitigate and successfully respond to future outbreak and to prevent a future pandemic
It is important we set up the Phase 2 of the origins study for success, and we believe this starts with new terms of reference for Phase 2 that reflect the priorities of all Member States, for an expert-led, science-based, and independent analysis of the origins.
We appreciate the tremendous work of scientists, researchers and other technical experts across the WHO Member States who provided recommendations to the WHO on Phase 2 of the origins study. Member States must be united in a commitment to find the origins of SARS-CoV-2, how the outbreak started, and spread throughout the world. The purpose of this inquiry is not to assign blame, but to be grounded in science, find the origin of the virus and the outbreak to help us all prevent such a global catastrophe from ever happening again.