12 May 2022 Speech by Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development Svenja Schulze at the Second Global COVID-19 Summit
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ladies and gentlemen,
To successfully combat the COVID-19 pandemic and save lives, the international community needs to use all the tools at its disposal. In addition to rolling out vaccinations we also need to ensure equitable access to testing and therapeutic options to minimize infections, hospitalization, cases of severe illness and long COVID. This is particularly important to protect the most at-risk and vulnerable groups.
Germany believes that testing and treatment strategies have to go hand in hand. Out of the total 1.2 billion US dollars we have provided to ACT-A, 200 million US dollars is in support of the diagnostics and therapeutics pillars. I am pleased that Federal Chancellor Olaf Scholz announced earlier that Germany will also contribute an initial 50 million euro to set up a new fund for pandemic preparedness at the World Bank.
Unfortunately testing rates are lower than ever, especially in low-income countries. That means that we as an international community are basically “flying blind” through the pandemic. To contain the pandemic, affordable or free tests need to be available to all people, everywhere. Moreover, testing strategies have to be shifted towards decentralised, community-based testing. To contain the pandemic, people in low-income countries should have access to self-testing and more guidance on how to use those tests, too.
Test results from all countries need to be better integrated into reporting channels to improve global surveillance. Genomic sequencing should be intensified to detect new variants. And we need to promote transparency and the voluntary sharing of data on COVID-19, not penalize countries that report new variants!
Global access to COVID-19 treatment is a humanitarian imperative! The WHO has recently recommended the use of new oral anti-viral pills. To procure them, ACT-A will need more than one billion US dollars. As their supply will be limited at first, we need to appropriately prioritize their distribution and ensure that they are effectively used. In addition, ACT-A needs another billion US dollars to supply oxygen for critically ill patients. Last but not least, it is important to build up sustainable local medical supply chains: not only for vaccines, but also for diagnostics, therapeutics, and personal protective equipment.
To conclude, Germany has provided its fair share and remains committed to ensuring balanced financing of all ACT-A pillars. I call on other donors to do so, too! Joining forces through ACT-A will help to strengthen health systems and bolster pandemic prevention and preparedness – saving lives and benefiting us all!