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Message from President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa and the AU champion for COVID-19 response at the 2nd Global Summit on COVID-19

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Your Excellencies,
Fellow Heads of State,
Colleagues and Friends,
 
This second Global Summit on COVID-19 takes place at a time when vigilance is required of us all. 
 
As the international community, we are working towards a swift social and economic recovery, but the threat of new waves and the emergence of new variants is ever-present.
 
To avoid a return to the catastrophic early days of the pandemic, we need to get many more people across the world vaccinated.
 
We need to expand access to testing and treatment. 
 
We need to be better prepared for future health crises and generate the financing to do so. 
 
South Africa therefore supports the formation of the Financial Intermediary Fund as a mechanism to finance global health security.
 
The global health recovery will not be inclusive so long as millions of people in developing economies remain unvaccinated.
 
Africa has one of the world’s lowest vaccination rates at 16 per cent, and coverage in low income countries is still under 13 per cent.
 
As African leaders, we are committed to achieving 70 per cent vaccine coverage through mass campaigns across the continent. 
 
We continue to advocate for a TRIPS waiver in the WTO to improve global access to vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics.
 
To get more life-saving vaccines to those in need, South Africa is donating 5 million doses of Pfizer vaccine and 10 million doses of the J&J vaccine to other African countries. 
 
South Africa has contributed $10 million to the Global Fund and plans to contribute financial support to the ACT-Accelerator.
 
To address low testing rates, AU member states have committed to a target of 200 million SARS-COV-2 tests by the end of 2022. 
 
At the same time, we will be implementing the Africa CDC's Enhanced Surveillance Strategy for community-based testing, wastewater testing and sentinel surveillance.
 
The AU Summit in February endorsed a common agenda for manufacturing vaccines, medicines, diagnostics, therapeutics and health products on the continent.
 
The continent’s largest COVID-19 vaccine manufacturing plant opened in South Africa last year, and mRNA hubs for tech transfer have been opened in South Africa, Egypt, Senegal, Tunisia, Kenya and Nigeria.
 
However, this progress may be reversed because international agencies are not buying vaccines from Africa, even those destined for African countries. 
 
This must change.
 
Multilateral agencies and philanthropists need to be procuring vaccines and boosters from African manufacturers to ensure the developing capabilities on the continent are retained.
 
As South Africa and as AU Champion for COVID-19 Response, we call on the international community to ensure that solidarity and equity underpin this next phase in our management of the pandemic.
 
This means that vaccines produced in Africa must be procured for Africa’s people. 
 
This is vital for the continent’s health security now and into the future.
 
I thank you.