Mr. President, excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,
Let me begin by thanking you, Mr. President, for your commitment to the effort to offer universal access to covid-19 vaccination.
No event has upended the day-to-day lives of people across the globe in the past seventy years like the global pandemic of the novel coronavirus that causes covid-19. When enough time has passed, it will be very interesting to see how well many of our decisions will age. One of the issues that are sure to draw scrutiny is the distribution of vaccines among the world’s population.
We face the fact that disparity in global vaccine distribution is vast.
A full year has passed since wealthy countries undertook a colossal effort to vaccinate their citizens, starting with the old and vulnerable parts of their populations. The effect of protecting those groups with vaccines has been a dramatic decrease in the severity of disease for those who have contracted the virus.
Since then, vaccination rates have been steadily climbing, and we have even given booster shots to many of our citizens. Large parts of the populations in wealthier countries who are very unlikely to develop serious illness from infection have been thoroughly protected.
Meanwhile, in too many countries, vaccination rates are shockingly low, with vaccines still not available even to health workers or the most vulnerable groups of society, let alone the general population.
To add to the travails of some of the poorest people in the world, the economic and social impact of large scale restrictions and disruption in the flow of goods are felt disproportionately by societies that are least prepared to absorb such shocks.
Ultimately, working together to ensure equitable access to vaccines is a fundamental matter of global solidarity and a critical test of our times.
Let me assure you that Iceland remains firmly committed to play its part.
Since the early months of the pandemic, Iceland has made substantial financial contributions to COVAX and shared vaccines through the same mechanism.
Earlier this month we also announced a contribution to UNCEF’s Act-A appeal of 250 million ISK.
And I can also confirm that we will continue our support to ACT-A this year too and will be announcing a sizable contribution to this end soon.
Through our bilateral partnerships, we have also sought to strengthen the resilience of health systems and counter the regressive impact the pandemic has had on gender equality and the empowerment of women.
In conclusion, I thank you again for organizing this event. May it indeed be a galvanising moment for universal vaccination.