President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Tuesday that while the Covid-19 pandemic highlighted the value of partnership, it also brought into focus the effects of unilateral action and unequal access to resources.
Speaking during the Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response Roundtable, he pointed out that the panel’s mandate is founded on the conviction that the world acts as a global community to prevent another pandemic of such proportions.
He said the world could not overcome the pandemic while richer countries had most of the world’s vaccine supply, to the exclusion and detriment of poorer countries.
“We know that it is the virus that causes the disease, but it is human action – and inaction – that causes the pandemic. A vital lesson from the coronavirus pandemic is the necessity for collective leadership, collaboration, solidarity and innovation among the countries of the world,” Ramaphosa said.
He said efforts must be made to accelerate universal health coverage and to ensure that vaccines and other life-saving treatments are considered “public good”.
He reiterated the African Union’s support for a temporary Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) waiver on Covid-19 vaccines, so as to allow more countries to produce vaccines, diagnostics and treatments, making them more accessible to poorer countries.
“This is about saving human lives. Not sometime in the future, but right now. We look forward to engaging further on the recommendations of the panel, which will enable all countries to strengthen pandemic preparedness. For more than a year, we have fought this global pandemic together as an international community. Let us now work together, with even greater resolve and focus, to not only prepare for the next pandemic but to build a fairer, healthier and more equitable world,” Ramaphosa pleaded.