The launch, which took the form of a virtual event, was co-hosted by WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus; Emmanuel Macron, President of the French Republic; Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
President Ramaphosa was invited to participate in his capacity as President of the Republic and Chair of the African Union.
Global health actors, private sector partners and other stakeholders come together to create a global platform for action which aims to enhance connections and leverage interdependencies for collective thought-partnership, problem-solving, mobilizing and guiding investments.
This platform will secure equitable access for new COVID-19 diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines. It will enable partners to avoid duplication and overlap, and identify gaps and close them before they emerge. It will connect upstream and downstream activities with countries and communities.
Its mission is not only accelerated development and production of new COVID-19 tools – it is to accelerate equitable global access to safe, quality, effective, and affordable COVID-19 diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines, and thus to ensure that in the fight against COVID-19, no one is left behind.
The launch of this collaboration starts the 10 day countdown to a coronavirus global response summit on 4 May 2020 – a virtual pledging event, spearheaded by the European Union, to mobilise the significant resources needed to accelerate the work towards protecting the world from COVID-19.
In a video message to the launch event, President Ramaphosa commended the WHO Director-General, Dr Ghebreyesus, on his stewardship of efforts to fight and eliminate the COVID-19 pandemic globally. The President expressed his appreciation for the timely launch of this collaboration.
The President said:
“Now, more than ever, the world needs solidarity and cooperation to mobilise and guide investments, and drive delivery towards equitable access for new COVID-19 diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines.
“The World Health Organisation has been instrumental in supporting African governments with early detection of the pandemic, the training of health workers and in strengthening surveillance in communities, including working with a network of experts to address the containment and prevention of the pandemic.
“Africa is extremely vulnerable to the ravages of this virus and is in need of every possible support and assistance.
“For its part, the African Union has established a COVID-19 Response Fund to direct resources to bolster the continent’s response.
“To date, African countries have contributed a combined amount of $61 million to this fund and to support the work of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.
“All of our efforts should complement each other.
“This launch is an important milestone to galvanise global support and to help accelerate the work towards protecting us all from COVID-19.
“South Africa stands ready to provide the necessary support to you, Dr Ghebreyesus, and the World Health Organisation in the execution of your important mandate.
“I take this opportunity to call upon the international community – for the sake of all humanity – to continue to support and work with the World Health Organisation in leading the fight against this pandemic.”