Speech by Federal Chancellor Dr Angela Merkel at the Global Vaccine Summit by Gavi – The Vaccine Alliance on 4 June 2020 (via video conference)
Secretary-General António Guterres,
Ladies and gentlemen,
I would like to thank all those involved in this truly important conference. Together, we can create the prerequisites for vaccinating a further 300 million children in the coming years in order to protect them from potentially lethal diseases. And we want to do so. Our aim here is to give over 300 million young people a greater chance of healthy development. And this is something we can achieve. 300 million is not just a number. It involves the lives of individual people. Despite all the discussion about funding, we must not lose sight of that.
COVID-19 has made Gavi’s work even more important. A virus that spreads worldwide can only be tackled effectively by joint global efforts. These include setting up research alliances. We need to simplify processes in order to achieve results faster. It is also vital to strengthen health-sector actors such as Gavi because as soon as a suitable vaccine has been found, we need to be in a position to start a global vaccination campaign without delay. Every day counts.
Vaccination saves lives. That cannot depend on the country where you live. Ready-to-use vaccines must be affordable, available and freely accessible worldwide. This is an enormous undertaking, one that Gavi has been addressing for 20 years now – and with great success. To date, over 760 million children have been vaccinated against dangerous diseases. As a result, polio has been almost eradicated. I am pleased that Germany was able to play its part here as one of Gavi’s largest donors.
However, we see that COVID-19 is now jeopardising further progress. Not only does the virus itself pose significant health risks, the pandemic is also adversely affecting an enormous range of other health measures, such as immunisation programmes against measles and TB, meaning that these and other infectious diseases may spread more widely again. According to WHO estimates, up to 80 million children could be affected.
This means that we cannot neglect the standard vaccination programmes. Gavi must be able to continue the work it already does and to do it successfully. Germany will therefore continue supporting the Vaccine Alliance with funding of 600 million euro in the next five years, in addition to the 100 million euro it pledged at the EU’s Coronavirus Global Response Pledging Conference.
Together, we can get the better of infectious diseases. Where there’s a will, there’s a way. And Gavi helps us to find this way. That’s why I hope that this conference will be successful for Gavi and ultimately for us all. Allow me to extend my heartfelt thanks to all those involved.
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