COVID-19: OP-ED

Cyril Ramaphosa’s G7 appeal: inject resources into closing the vaccination gap

By Cyril Ramaphosa 13 June 2021

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson interacts with South African President Cyril Ramaphosa ahead of a bilateral meeting at the G7 summit in Carbis Bay on June 13, 2021 in Cornwall, England. UK Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, hosts leaders from the USA, Japan, Germany, France, Italy and Canada at the G7 Summit. This year the UK has invited India, South Africa, and South Korea to attend the Leaders' Summit as guest countries as well as the EU. (Photo by Stefan Rousseau - WPA Pool/Getty Images)

South African president Cyril Ramaphosa has urged the G7 countries to use their dominant position to ensure that the world’s population is vaccinated in the shortest time possible. These are his remarks to the summit on Saturday, 12 June, 2021.

Cyril Ramaphosa

Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Your Excellencies,

 South Africa commends the G7 and other countries present for the collective action taken to overcome the current global health crisis and the commitment to create a better, greener and more prosperous world. 

 Ending the pandemic must be our most immediate priority. 

COVID-19 is not over. 

 Globally, there were more COVID cases reported in the first five months of 2021 than in the whole of 2020.

We, therefore, have to act with urgency and at an unprecedented scale.

To successfully contain a virus of this nature, to limit loss of life and to prevent the emergence of new variants requires that as many of the world’s population is vaccinated in the shortest time possible.

 At the same time, we need to address the substantial financing gap for tests, treatments, critical supplies like oxygen and the health systems that enable testing, treatment and vaccination.

It is, therefore, vital that G7 countries – which together account for more than half of global output – provide substantial support to the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator.

Since its formation a year ago, the ACT-Accelerator has supported more than 70 countries to expand lab infrastructure for testing and delivered millions of rapid diagnostic tests; accelerated development and production of vaccines; delivered more than 69 million doses since February 2021; and procured PPE with a value of more than US$ 500 million.

 The ACT-Accelerator has the potential to fundamentally change the global trajectory of this disease, but only if all countries contribute their fair share to close the $16.8 billion funding gap for this year.

If all G7 countries met their fair share target, this initiative would be two-thirds funded – and it would be 90 per cent funded if all G20 countries made their fair share contributions.

If we are to save lives and end the pandemic, we need to expand and diversify manufacturing and get medical products to treat, combat and prevent the pandemic to as many people as quickly as possible

The proposed TRIPS waiver is a temporary, targeted and proportional response, which recognises the unprecedented nature of the pandemic.

 Addressing the intellectual property barriers, enabling the transfer of technology and know-how whilst facilitating backward integration to raw materials and distribution rights, is fundamental for scaling up manufacturing of medical products and equipment. 

 We call on all G7 Members to support the waiver and engage in negotiations that will result in a balanced outcome that massively and rapidly expands production in Africa across the world.  

The negotiations must be concluded soon because the cost of inaction is measured in people’s lives. 

If the world is to emerge from this grave crisis, it is essential that we work together to mobilise and direct resources to those countries in the greatest need – and that we do so now.  I thank you. DM

 

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