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COVID Summit
My White House remarks on COVID
Everyone can step up commitments to end this pandemic and prevent the next one.
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Today I had the opportunity to deliver a few remarks virtually at the second Global COVID-19 Summit. Hosted by President Biden and the leaders of Belize, Germany, Indonesia, and Senegal and attended by heads of state from around the world, the summit was focused on ending the acute phase of the COVID-19 pandemic and improving the world’s ability to prevent the next one.

That’s a huge topic (and one I just published a book about). But since the day’s agenda was quite full and I had only a few minutes to speak, I focused my remarks on just a few topics, including the need for a global team of experts who can help the world prepare for new disease threats. I announced a new commitment of up to $125 million from the Gates Foundation to fight COVID, get new tools developed faster, and help low- and middle-income countries improve their health systems. And I urged the other attendees to step up their own financial commitments too.

I’m glad to see governments coming together to work on all these issues. As long as these discussions lead to concrete actions, I’m optimistic that the world can bring this pandemic to an end—and make sure no one ever has to suffer through another one.

Here’s the text of my remarks:

Remarks as prepared
May 12, 2022
Global COVID Summit

I’m grateful to the United States, Belize, Germany, Indonesia, and Senegal for bringing us together on this critical issue.

Thank you, too, to the Biden administration for your efforts to secure more funding for global pandemic response. I hope Congress acts on this quickly.

The pandemic isn’t over yet. That point was made even clearer to me this week when I tested positive for COVID.

It’s also clear that the world was not ready for this pandemic. The good news is, we know how to prevent the next one.

But we don’t have time to waste. We all need to step up our commitments.

Today, the Gates Foundation is committing up to $125 million to help end this pandemic and prevent the next one. We’re especially going to support the countries most often left behind.

  • We’re supporting integrated disease surveillance to ensure that countries can rapidly identify threats and respond effectively.
  • We’re helping to accelerate R&D of vaccines, diagnostics, and therapeutics and make them more accessible.
  • And we’re learning more about what countries need to manage COVID alongside other challenges.
  • This commitment is in addition to our related work to ensure health equity and resilient health systems.

I know that great progress is possible if others join us in investing in new approaches to these challenges.

  • We need a dedicated corps of experts around the world who are preparing for new threats and can mount a coordinated response—much like firefighters are always practicing and on alert.
  • We need stronger data systems to identify what’s causing deaths around the world. And those systems need to be integrated, so that information about the spread of disease can be shared across borders.
  • We’ve got to develop treatments, tests, and vaccines much faster than we did with COVID.
  • We need to keep fighting other endemic infectious diseases—which happens to be a good way to fight emerging diseases too.
  • And we need to allocate life-saving tools based on need rather than wealth. This means getting COVID vaccines and boosters to older people first no matter where they live, because they’re at the greatest risk.

The world is facing a lot of urgent challenges. I’m convinced we can afford to address them all—and we can’t afford not to.

I’m optimistic that we can make remarkable progress. I’m encouraged by Indonesia and the G20’s efforts to catalyze new pandemic funding. The G7, working with the African Union and other partners, can play a huge role in ensuring international cooperation.

I know we can prevent the next pandemic—and make the world a safer, more equitable place—if we all act now.

Thank you.

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