WHO Director-General's opening remarks at the Member States briefing on COVID-19 - 19 November 2020
GENEVA, 19 November 2020 / PRN / -- Honourable Ministers, Excellencies, dear colleagues and friends,
Thank you for joining us for today's briefing.
Today, we are honoured to have two champions of the ACT Accelerator here with us: the two Co-Chairs of the Facilitation Council, the Honourable Dr Zweli Mkhize, the Minister of Health of South Africa, and His Excellency Dag Inge Ulstein, the Minister of International Development of Norway.
They have kindly agreed to update Member States on the work of the Council in leveraging the political and financial support the ACT Accelerator needs to achieve its goals of ensuring equitable access to COVID-19 diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines.
After that, you will hear from doctors, Dr Mike Ryan, my general, Peter Ben Embarek, and Maria van Kerkhove on our research into the origins of the virus, including a status update on the work of the international team with their Chinese counterparts.
And of course, for the last several weeks, the whole world has been talking about the exciting new breakthroughs in the search for a COVID-19 vaccine.
For our third agenda item, I have asked the Director of the department of Immunizations, Vaccines and Biologicals, Dr Kate O'Brien to provide an update on the results from phase 3 clinical trials of the two mRNA vaccines, as well as challenges and solutions for delivering vaccines.
Our Chief Scientist Dr Soumya Swaminathan will also be with us to answer questions, as will Bruce Aylward.
I will conclude with some especially good news.
Yesterday marked the end of the 11th Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, nearly six months after the first cases were reported in Equateur Province.
You remember the end of the North Kivu complicated outbreak in June.
By any measure, it was an incredible logistical feat. The effort involved tracking cases, providing treatment and vaccinating more than 40 thousand people in communities scattered across dense rain forests as well as crowded urban areas.
WHO's Regional Director for Africa, Dr Moeti, summed it up eloquently. I quote: “Overcoming one of the world's most dangerous pathogens in remote and hard to access communities demonstrates what is possible when science and solidarity come together.” Thank you so much, Tshidi.
In closing, let me thank you again for a successful World Health Assembly. Like most things this year, it was conducted under challenging circumstances. We appreciate the feedback we received at the Executive Board this week.
Thank you all for your continued solidarity in the response to COVID-19.
As always, there will be time for your questions and comments.
I thank you.
SOURCE World Health Organization (WHO)