Statement at Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator (ACT-A) Facilitation Council meeting

Statement by Minister of International Development Anne Beathe Tvinnereim at the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator (ACT-A) Facilitation Council meeting on 6 July 2022.

Check against delivery

At our last facilitation council meeting, I highlighted our collective failure to meet our vaccination goals. Since April there has not been too much change.

Covid-19 is still affecting and infecting millions of people. People are still dying or getting sick. Recent estimates indicate that people are twice as likely to die from Covid-19 if they live in a low-income country.

Covid-19 is still impacting our societies on a wide range of levels. Progress towards reaching the goals under SDG 3 is at risk, especially in countries where Covid-19 has put pressure on already fragile health systems. Vaccination is still not progressing as fast as we would like to see. Challenges related to delivery and roll-out remain, and countries face other health problems. Building capacity at country level according to the needs of each individual country is what is important now.

We must support robust health systems, particularly in low-income countries. This would benefit both the fight against Covid-19 and the preparedness and response to future outbreaks. We must also ensure delivery of vaccines, tests and treatment in settings of difficult humanitarian situations or crises.

At the same time, we are also moving from an acute pandemic towards what looks like an endemic phase of Covid-19. Many countries have lifted restrictions, Norway included. But there are still many unknowns. Unless we can overcome the challenges of vaccination, diagnostics, and monitoring of the disease the risk of new mutations and outbreaks will be elevated. In recent months, the rate of new daily cases of Covid-19 seems still to be rising – this time driven by BA4 and 5 variants, despite the global efforts so far. 

Looking ahead, it is crucial to identify and use lessons learned from the Covid-19 pandemic. We need financing, institutional and legal reforms. Both increased international as well as domestic financing is needed, including through the new Financial Intermediary Fund just agreed at the World Bank. We will also need better coordination between involved state actors, multilateral institutions, and other entities.

An independent evaluation of ACT-A is being prepared by South Africa and Norway, as council co-chairs with the support of a reference group. This evaluation will provide an objective basis which should inform our next steps. This evaluation should be based on the experiences of all actors involved. Learning from the past is the only way to improve global pandemic preparedness, prevention and response in a way that is both more efficient and more equitable.

Equitable access to vaccines, treatment and diagnostics will still be at the center in the continuing fight against Covid-19, as well as the next pandemic. This will also constitute an important part of the negotiations of a new Pandemic Accord at WHO.

Thank you for your attention.