President Paul Kagame has called for the international funding of the development of the COVID-19 vaccine to ensure that there is equitable distribution of the vaccine in developed and developing countries.
The Head of State made the call on Saturday while participating in a special G20 Summit side event on Pandemic Preparedness and Response which brought together global leaders to discuss strategies to overcome the New Coronavirus pandemic.
President Kagame was speaking on behalf of The African Union Development Agency (AUDA-NEPAD), which he is chair, in the dialogue on overcoming the COVID-19 pandemic and restoring economic growth, at the G20 Summit, hosted by Saudi Arabia.
“This session deals with the most urgent tasks facing the international community at this moment,”
“We must end the pandemic through the rapid and equitable distribution of vaccines in every country in the world. And we must chart a pathway back to global growth,” President Kagame said.
President Kagame commended the G20 for mobilising resources for the Access to Covid-19 Tools Accelerator, in particular the COVAX facility, adding that the recent announcements of effective vaccines has created hope worldwide.
“The apparent effectiveness of several vaccine candidates has generated enormous optimism for a return to normality in 2021,”
“Fully funding COVAX is essential for ensuring that the vaccine is available everywhere. And we cannot forget that strong national health systems are necessary for effective vaccine distribution,” he said.
The Head of State pointed out that containing the pandemic permits a return to growth, but does not guarantee it, making a case for African countries which are likely to struggle to navigate their way out of the COVID-19 impact, calling for debt suspension measures and additional financing.
“The ability of countries to finance economic recovery is highly variable. Africa, notably, does not have access to the monetary policy tools in more developed economies,”
“For that reason, the G20’s continued commitment to the Debt Service Suspension Initiative is of central importance. But this crucial program will not be sufficient. Additional stimulus will be required in developing countries, just as it is in advanced economies,” he added.
President Kagame added that countries must continue to work together to ensure that no one is left behind, as the world recovers from the crisis.
Reinforcing President Kagame’s point, the African Union (AU) chairman, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said that the African continent is playing its part, including through the establishment of a COVID-19 Response Fund, to mobilise resources for a continental response and to support recovery.
“We also launched the African Medical Supplies Platform to ensure equitable access to medical equipment and supplies,”
“We have been involved in the formation of the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator, a global network to ensure access to vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics for all those who need it,” President Ramaphosa said, emphasising that the G20 should ensure that access to an effective COVID-19 vaccine should be universal, fair and equitable, as the consensus was at the summit.
“A commitment by G20 leaders to invest substantially in the ACT-Accelerator’s immediate funding gap of $4.5 billion will immediately save lives, lay the groundwork for mass provision of COVID-19 tools around the world, and provide a way out of this global economic and human crisis,”
“We look to the G20, international partners and the international financial institutions to work with African countries to rebuild their economies. The African Union has proposed several measures, including debt relief in the form of interest-payment waivers and deferred payments,” Ramaphosa, emphasising Africa’s position.
To be adequately prepared for the future, President Ramaphosa said that countries must invest in funding and research and bolster health infrastructure and health systems.
“We are encouraged by the continued commitment of the G20 to financing universal health coverage in developing countries,”
“We must accelerate the implementation of the UN Sustainable Development Goals to strengthen the capacity of all countries to better withstand the impact of future crises,” he said.
President Ramaphosa called for practical measures to promote the economic inclusion of women, who are currently among the most vulnerable to such social and economic disruption.
“This pandemic has demonstrated the interconnectedness of our world,”
“It is only through cooperation and solidarity that we will ensure the future health and welfare of our global community,” he added.
The meeting came at a time different parts of the world are experiencing a second spike of the New Coronavirus, which increased the desire to fast track vaccine development to avert more deaths in the coming months.