WHO Director-General’s opening remarks during Member States’ briefing on COVID-19 and other issues – 9 June 2022 – Global

Honorable Ministers, Excellencies, Dear Colleagues and Friends,

Good morning, good afternoon and good evening to all Member States, and thank you for joining us once again.

Globally, the number of reported COVID-19 cases and deaths continues to decline.

This is an encouraging trend, but the Secretariat continues to urge caution.

Overall, there is not enough testing and not enough vaccination.

On average, about three-quarters of health workers and people aged over 60 worldwide have been vaccinated.

But these rates are much lower in low-income countries.

Vaccine supplies are now sufficient, but demand in many countries with the lowest vaccination rates is lacking.

The perception that the pandemic is over is understandable, but misguided. Now is not the time to let our guard down.

A new, more dangerous variant could appear at any time and large numbers of people remain unprotected.

It has now been two and a half years since we first identified cases of this novel coronavirus.

We don’t yet have answers as to where it came from or how it entered the human population.

Last year, the WHO established the Scientific Advisory Group on the Origins of Novel Pathogens, or SAGO, to outline the studies needed to identify the origins of SARS-CoV-2 and to create a global framework for studying the origins. emerging and recurrent diseases. emerging pathogens.

Understanding the origins of the virus is very important scientifically, to prevent future epidemics and pandemics.

But morally, we also owe it to all those who suffered and died, and to their families.

The longer it takes, the more difficult it becomes. We need to step up and act with a sense of urgency.

All hypotheses must remain on the table until we have evidence that allows us to rule out certain hypotheses.

This makes it all the more urgent that this scientific work be separated from politics.

The way to prevent politicization is for countries to share data and samples, transparently and without interference from any government.

The only way this scientific work can successfully progress is with the full cooperation of all countries, including China, where the first cases of SARS-CoV-2 were reported.

For example, WHO has established a collaboration with Italy to verify the 2019 sample results. We thank Italy for voluntarily sharing data and samples for independent verification.

This collaboration never became a political issue, due to the transparent way in which Italy cooperated.

SAGO needs the best scientific evidence to make the most robust assessment possible.

His work will provide essential clues to predict and prepare for future epidemics and pandemics.

I call on all Member States to cooperate fully with SAGO, for the benefit of all of us and future generations.

Yesterday, Member States received the first SAGO report. In a few moments, Dr Mike Ryan, Dr Maria Van Kerkhove and SAGO Chair Professor Marietjie Venter of the University of Pretoria, South Africa, will introduce you to SAGO’s work to date and key findings from the report.

I am also pleased to welcome the Vice-President, Professor Jean-Claude Manuguerra, from the Institut Pasteur, France.

I welcome you both and thank you for your leadership and your work.

Following their briefing, Dr. Mariângela Simão will provide an update on the COVID Technology Access Pool, or C-TAP.

Two years ago, following the example of the former President of Costa Rica, President Alvarado, WHO and our partners created C-TAP to promote voluntary mechanisms for sharing intellectual property, know-how and Datas.

I thank Costa Rica, former President Alvarado and the 43 Member States who co-sponsored the Solidarity Call to Action establishing C-TAP.

I also thank Unitaid and the Medicines Patent Pool, as well as UNDP, UNAIDS and Open COVID Pledge.

I’m especially grateful to public research institutes like the Spanish Research Council and the US National Institutes of Health, for sharing their technologies and helping us prove that C-TAP works. I also thank Spain and Belgium for their financial support.

As always, we appreciate your participation in today’s presentations and look forward to your questions, comments and advice.

Jude, come back to yourself.

Edward K. Thompson