Statement at a UN General Assembly Informal Meeting on the Political Declaration on Equitable Global Access to COVID-19 Vaccines

Courtney Nemroff
U.S. Deputy Representative to the Economic and Social Council
New York, New York
March 26, 2021


Thank you, Mr. President.

The United States welcomes the spirit of the political declaration circulated today, and thanks Lebanon and others for their leadership in its development. We signed the declaration in solidarity, recognizing that COVID-19 is a global challenge that requires a global response, and we will post a few clarifying points* on our mission website.

The United States strongly believes we must all work together to respond to and recover from COVID-19, and to learn from our current experiences in order to better address potential future biological threats.

While it seemed impossible a year ago, unprecedented partnerships and collaboration among governments, nongovernmental organizations, academia, and the private sector have yielded several safe, effective, high-quality, and lifesaving COVID-19 vaccines authorized for emergency use by Stringent Regulatory Authorities and the World Health Organization.

This truly global effort, spearheaded by the scientific community with careful analysis and transparent testing processes, has allowed us to shift focus from developing vaccines to expanding and accelerating their manufacture and development.

The United States has a long tradition of supporting global health and global health security efforts. Over the past two decades, we have provided more than $140 billion in global health assistance, including technical expertise and critical infrastructure that bolstered global preparedness to rapidly respond to COVID-19 and save lives.

The United States continues to be the world’s single largest contributor to global health as well as the international response to COVID-19.

As part of this effort, the United States has stepped forward to become the largest donor to COVAX. We provided an initial contribution of $2 billion to Gavi in support of the COVAX Advance Market Commitment, which pools global demand and funding to help low- and middle-income economies access COVID-19 vaccines.

We will contribute an additional $2 billion to Gavi to support COVAX through 2022, for a total of $4 billion, and we call on others to do more as well. We all need to raise our ambition and support for equitable, transparent global distribution of safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines by urgently accelerating delivery of pledges and increasing contributions to support COVAX.

We urge all partners, including governments, foundations, NGOs, and the private sector, to fulfill existing pledges and to consider new commitments in support of COVAX to support broad and equitable distribution of vaccines around the globe, including to the most vulnerable communities. It is disappointing that some countries claiming to be vaccine champions have not yet contributed to COVAX.

We must support the manufacture and distribution of quality, safe, and effective vaccines as quickly as possible. We share with other countries a growing sense of hope and optimism as COVAX deliveries arrive and more people receive vaccines, but we recognize there is much more work to be done to end the pandemic and address its impacts.

The United States is committed to working with the international community and our UN partners to support the international health and humanitarian response; mitigate the pandemic’s devastating impact on global health, food security, and gender-based violence; support international efforts to develop and distribute medical countermeasures for COVID-19; and build the capacity required to fight COVID-19, its variants, and emerging biological threats.

We are working to develop an integrated approach for U.S. bilateral and multilateral global health investments, including foreign assistance and development financing. And we are doing this with partners to coordinate and promote accountability and an enduring international catalytic financing mechanism for global health security as well as advancing and improving existing bilateral and multilateral approaches.

Mr. President, no nation can act alone in the face of the pandemic, and our goal is clear: we must work together to come out of this more united in the face of global challenges and build back better. We owe it to the more than 2.7 million people who have lost their lives and 124 million people infected thus far, and their families.

Thank you very much.


*U.S. Clarifying Points

  • The United States is pleased to co-sign this important political declaration and thanks Lebanon for its leadership in this initiative.
  • The United States supports the overriding aim of this non-binding, political declaration and shares the spirit of solidarity in working to ensure safe, effective and speedy immunization of everyone, everywhere. However, the United States does not view this language as consensus language in the UN context.
  • We take this opportunity to make a number of clarifying points with regard to the specific text.
  • It is not enough to facilitate global access to COVID-19 vaccination if those vaccines are not proven to be safe and effective. Efforts to facilitate global access should distribute vaccines that are authorized by the World Health Organization or at least two stringent regulatory authorities to enhance vaccine confidence and global access to quality, safe, and effective vaccines.
  • The United States supports international initiatives to equitably distribute safe and effective vaccines and does not understand language in paragraph 8 to suggest that there are international agreements on this subject that are not being adhered to.
  • With regard to paragraph 9, the United States recognizes that widespread immunization against COVID-19 is a global public good, but we do not believe such recognition requires, let alone exclusively, a particular mechanism for achieving that outcome.
  • The United States supports the call for a global ceasefire as detailed in resolutions 2532 (2020) and 2565 (2021), which affirmed that the general and immediate cessation of hostilities and humanitarian pause does not apply to military operations against Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh), Al-Qaida and Al-Nusra Front, and all other individuals, groups, undertakings, and entities associated with Al-Qaida or ISIL, and other Council-designated terrorist groups.
  • In regard to the final paragraph, we note that we do not support the language on “every member of our common humanity” which has no precedent in UN resolutions nor a definition that is agreed upon by Member States. The UN Charter reaffirms faith in fundamental human rights, and in the dignity and worth of the human person and in their equal rights.
  • While there remains much work ahead of us, the United States has demonstrated its commitment to increasing global distribution, for example:
    • The United States government invested early to provide more than $13 billion to support the research, development, and scaled manufacture of COVID-19 vaccines and treatments.
    • Unprecedented partnerships between governments, non-governmental organizations, and the private sector, including industry and academia, have brought numerous safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines to market in less than a year. We are continuing to research COVID-19 and the implication of new variants.
    • In March, the United States provided an initial $2 billion contribution to Gavi in support of COVAX’s Advanced Market Commitments to procure and distribute safe and effective vaccines to 92 low- and middle-income economies. We plan to provide an additional $2 billion in contributions to Gavi through 2022, and seek to galvanize contributions from other donors.
    • Currently, the demand for vaccines far exceeds supply. We look forward to coordinating with international partners, including through the G7, the Quad, and other initiatives, to support expanded global manufacturing. This includes efforts to expand approved manufacturing sites, address global supply chain gaps and deficiencies, and rapidly bolster support to national and local providers to distribute and administer vaccines, and promote vaccine confidence.
    • Furthermore, the United States, through both the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and USAID, are providing technical assistance to countries to support international partners in vaccine readiness.
    • Our concern for global vaccination is driving our actions, and we are pleased to work with our partners around the world to defeat COVID-19.