Africa: Director-General’s Opening Remarks At the 6th Meeting of the Access to Covid-19 Tools Accelerator Facilitation Council – 12 May 2021

Your Excellency Dr Mkhize, Minister of Health of South Africa,

Your Excellency Dag Inge Ulstein, Minister of International Development of Norway,

Your Excellency Stella Kyriakides, Commissioner of Health and Food Safety of the European Commission,

Dear colleagues and friends,

Good morning, good afternoon and good evening to all of you, and thank you all once again for your commitment and support.

Let me start with a brief overview of the state of the pandemic.

More than 157 million cases have now been reported to WHO, and more than 3.2 million people have lost their lives. Those numbers are near double what they were at the beginning of this year.

The shocking global disparity in access to vaccines and other COVID-19 tools remains one of the biggest risks to ending the pandemic.

High- and upper-middle income countries represent 53% of the world’s population, but have received 83% of the world’s vaccines.

In contrast, low- and lower-middle income countries account for 47% of the world’s population but have received just 17% of the world’s vaccines.

Low-income countries are testing at rates up to 100 times lower than in high-income countries.

Many low- and middle-income countries are also experiencing devastating shortages of oxygen.

We have the tools to help end the COVID-19 pandemic. But that can only happen with equitable access.