Announcement of the COVID-19 Ministerial

Editor’s Note
A “COVID-19 Ministerial” was convened by the U.S. State Department on November 10 [selected announcements below]. Readers will note that the aspirations outlined in the announcement of this meeting […we will assess…we will discuss…we will discuss…we will also assess…] were well aligned with the results reported.

Press Statement
Announcement of the COVID-19 Ministerial
Antony J. Blinken, Secretary of State
November 5, 2021
[Excerpt]
…Foreign Ministers must play a central role to bring this pandemic to an end and prepare for the future.  Together with my counterparts and leaders from regional and international organizations, we will assess the current state of the global response to COVID-19, the virus’s impact, and the threat of future pandemics.  We will discuss efforts to accelerate toward vaccine equity and impact.  We will discuss the need for sustainable financing for global health security.  We will also assess the role of enhanced regional collaboration and coordinated political leadership in current and future preparedness and response…

10 November 2021 Speech
WHO Director-General’s remarks at the COVID-19 Foreign Ministerial hosted by the United States of America
[Excerpt]
First, how do we end this pandemic? And second, how do we make the world safer? Let me start with the first question.

As you know, WHO’s targets are to vaccinate 40% of the population of all countries by the end of this year, and 70% by mid-2022. Nearly 80 countries, half of them in Africa, will not reach our 40% vaccination target, without your help. To reach that target, we need an additional 550 million doses.

We ask you to establish immediately a high-level working group to identify and deliver those doses, and to give COVAX, AVAT and low-income countries the visibility they need so they can plan accordingly.

We ask high-coverage countries to give your place in the vaccine delivery queue to COVAX and AVAT, as the US has just done with a delivery of Moderna vaccines;

We ask those countries that have promised to donate vaccines to make good on those promises, as soon as possible.

We ask you to support local production of vaccines.

And we ask you to fully fund the ACT Accelerator, which needs 23.4 billion U.S. dollars over the next 12 months to get vaccines, tests, treatments and PPE to where they are needed most…

Press Statement
Innovative Next Steps in the Global COVID-19 Response
Antony J. Blinken November 10, 2021
[Excerpt]
…Today, I convened a COVID-19 Ministerial to discuss with foreign ministers representing every region of the world and representatives of international and regional organizations the status of our collective COVID-19 response and important steps forward.  These include three new efforts.

First, to ensure that vaccine doses reach people in need, Global COVID Corps, a coalition of leading private sector companies, will provide pro bono expertise, tools, and capabilities to support logistics and vaccination efforts in low- and middle-income countries.  This effort, which includes some of the largest U.S.-based and non-U.S based multinational corporations, will work with and support countries in key areas including supply management, supply chain logistics, vaccine site network infrastructure, vaccine site optimization, and demand generation. Governments, international and regional organizations, civil society and the private sector must continue to work together to defeat this pandemic.

We also must rely on data-driven tools to measure our progress towards meeting the ambitious targets set forth in President Biden’s recent Summit, hold ourselves accountable to the commitments we have made, and identify gaps in our global response.  To advance these goals of transparency and accountability and track the response, I welcome the launch of the Global COVID-19 Access Tracker, powered by the Multilateral Leaders Task Force (MLT) and the ACT-Accelerator.  This site, located at COVID19GlobalTracker.org, includes a public-facing dashboard that tracks progress against the key global targets.  Data will continually be uploaded and updated to enable all of us to track progress at the global, regional, and national level.

Finally, we need to ensure that people everywhere can access vaccines, and that those who cannot be reached by government vaccination campaigns are included in our efforts to vaccinate the world.  The United States has helped broker an agreement between Johnson & Johnson and COVAX to facilitate the first delivery of Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine doses to people living in conflict zones and other humanitarian settings.  We are committed to helping people in these difficult circumstances to get protection against COVID-19 as soon as possible.

Ending this global pandemic requires global solutions, cooperation, and innovation.  We need political will, resources, and cooperation to succeed.  During the course of the Ministerial, we discussed our shared commitment to rapidly expand the provision of vaccines so that we can meet the WHO’s targets.  We also discussed how to foster regional collaboration to address systemic challenges that have been laid bare by the pandemic.  The United States is committed to working with partners to build increased regional capacity.  Finally, we addressed the need to expand global production of vaccines and other vital medical supplies, an expansion that the United States has invested in and will continue to support, as well as what is needed to strengthen, govern and sustain an effective global health security architecture.  I look forward to future convenings with foreign ministers, and to working together to end this pandemic everywhere, and for everyone.

Press Statement
Chair’s Statement by U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken following the COVID-19 Ministerial
Antony J. Blinken November 10, 2021
[Excerpt]
…Recognizing that foreign ministers must play a leading role in advancing these efforts and must therefore engage on a regular basis to share views, forge plans and unite behind the actions needed to ensure the security of all nations, Secretary of State Antony Blinken on November 10, 2021 convened a virtual COVID-19 Ministerial.  The meeting focused on ending the pandemic and building better health security to prevent, prepare for, and respond to infectious disease and other biological threats.  Ministers discussed the state of the global response to and impact from COVID-19; meeting global vaccine coverage, diagnostic, and therapeutic targets; vaccine sharing principles, transparency, solidarity, and equity; the need for sustained financing to build global health security capacity; the role of regional collaboration and architecture in health security; and the need for coordinated political leadership in multisector responses to prevent future pandemics.  In addition to welcoming the work of the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator (ACT-A), Ministers underscored the importance of coalescing around shared targets, upholding and increasing political and financial commitments, and turning those commitments into action.  The Ministerial provided an opportunity to identify gaps and solutions that require political leadership and launched what will be a series of regular engagements by foreign ministers.

Accelerating Towards Vaccine Equity and Impact: Vaccine Principles and Expanding Global Vaccine Manufacturing  
Participants reiterated calls to work together to end the COVID-19 pandemic as soon as possible, with every country, partner, and organization doing its part, aligning around shared goals and targets, and holding each other to account.  Ministers broadly aligned around the World Health Organization (WHO) vaccination targets and expressed shared urgency to do more, to enhance accountability, and to monitor progress.  Reflecting on the state of vaccine supply and readiness, participants noted the role foreign ministers can play in accelerating vaccine access globally.  Some Ministers raised cooperation, including a positive view towards sharing relevant data and information, to make safe and efficacious vaccines available, and supporting scientific and technological cooperation among national, regional and global institutions for research, development and production of vaccines and consumables…