Remarks by Vice President Harris at the Global Covid-19 Summit
South Court Auditorium
Eisenhower Executive Office Building
9:36 A.M. EDT
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Thank you. Thank you, Madam Ambassador. And thank you, all of you, for co-hosting this very important convening: Prime Minister Briceño; the President, of course, Sall of Senegal; and Chancellor Scholz; and President Widodo. Thank you all. And I also see my friend, Prime Minister Trudeau. And, President Sánchez, I want to thank you as well and everyone who is here with us today.
Today marks a solemn milestone for us in the United States: the loss of one million American lives due to COVID-19. One million lives.
Today and every day, we remember them, of course, and we honor them. And I send my prayers to their loved ones. And I recognize all the pain that has been endured by them and those who have lost loved ones around the world.
I believe we owe it to their memories and to the millions of other lives lost around the world to renew our fight against this deadly virus, which brings me to why, of course, we are all gathered here today.
Over the last two years, as we all know, COVID has had a devastating impact on people around the globe: economic shocks, a massive disruption to so many parts of our daily lives.
And of course, yes, we have made remarkable progress. Yet without continued action, lives and livelihoods will continue to be at risk. This is why our administration is hard at work in Washington, D.C., doing everything we can.
As you heard just a moment ago from President Joe Biden, there are a number of ways in which we have and will continue to take action.
We have called upon the United States Congress for $22.5 billion dollars in additional emergency funding to battle COVID. Five billion dollars of that would be dedicated to continue our leadership in helping to save lives around the world.
We will continue to advocate for these lifesaving resources as part of our global commitment.
All of you in this headliners session have also taken very important steps and have made key commitments, and we thank you.
In our collective words and actions, we are all making clear complacency is not an option.
As we gather today, our goals are twofold: One, we must continue to respond to the threat. And two, we must prepare for the future.
As long as the COVID virus is present in one country, it impacts all of us.
This pandemic, of course, knows no borders, and we must continue to work together to find solutions.
We still — as has been said, we still need to make vaccines, tests, and new treatments accessible to all and especially to those who are highest at risk: the elderly, the immunocompromised, and healthcare workers.
I am also aware that countries throughout the world need more training for doctors and nurses and community health workers; and more technical assistance, including freezers, to help get shots in arms. We look forward to partnering with all of you on this.
We must also keep an eye to the future. We have learned key lessons in the past two years — lessons about the importance of early detection and surveillance; the need to leverage the private sector and non-profits to scale production of medicines and tests and vaccines; the transformative power of investments in health systems and health workers; the complicated mechanics of donating and distributing hundreds of millions of vaccines around the world; and the lifesaving benefits of a global health security fund.
Last year, at this very summit, we discussed this particular lesson. And you’ll recall I urged us to work together to develop a new financing system and mechanism.
Thanks to President Widodo and Prime Minister Draghi, through the G20, we have consensus to establish this fund. And I know we all know and have said it will help us on very critical issues like early detection and warning systems, and investments in rapid recovery and response. And this is just the beginning.
The way I see it is this: As we think about moving forward, I believe we can also come together — in addition to everything we have discussed — come together to shape new international norms on these issues.
Together, we can establish common understandings that guide our collective action: that all countries, regardless of GDP, should have access to lifesaving vaccines, tests, and therapeutics; that nations should be transparent and share information early and often; that leaders should prioritize the most vulnerable and the overlooked; and that we must recognize and address inequities in our systems.
The future, of course, will present other global health crises, but they don’t have to become catastrophes if we do this work together.
Now is the time, we know, for bold thinking and concrete action. And I look forward to this discussion and continuing discussions, and the work we will do together to shape the future of global health and health security around the world.
Thank you all.
END 9:42 A.M. EDT