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Pacific Small Island Developing States Statement at the Informal meeting of the plenary on the Political Declaration on Equitable Global Access to COVID-19 Vaccines

Friday, 26 March 2021
Col. Sapenafa Motufaga
New York

Statement by Fiji as Chair of the Pacific Small Island Developing States (PSIDS)

UN General Assembly Meeting to Launch

"The Political Declaration on Equal and Affordable Access to COVID-19 Vaccine"

New York, Friday 26 March 2021

Mr President, Excellencies

Fiji on behalf of the Pacific small island developing states expresses our appreciation to the core group of member states (Brazil, Denmark, Egypt, EU, Germany, India, Italy, Kenya, Mexico, Norway, Pakistan, Qatar, Republic of Korea, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Senegal, Sweden, UK, Lebanon and Fiji) for initiating this important political declaration.

Pacific Small Island Developing States are deeply grateful to the Permanent Mission of Lebanon and Lebanon’s Ambassador H.E. Ms. Amal Mudallali for her excellent working in steering this.

It is more than a year since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. No country in the world has been spared its devastating impact. The pandemic has morphed from a health crisis into a full-blown socioeconomic crisis.

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought to the forefront the need for global solidarity on a level we have not seen before. COVID-19 vaccines must be a ‘global public good’- equally accessible, affordable and more or less, equally effective. Priority groups everywhere need to be treated similarly; not differentially. COVID-19 and its variants will only thrive on a vaccine divide.

To date, there are many developing and least developed countries who have not received a single dose of any vaccine. At the same time, some countries are meeting their vaccination schedules at great pace. We do 2 not begrudge this. But this reflects a worrying global gap. It is a gap of equity; it is a gap of fairness; it is a gap of unity.

This declaration seeks to close that gap and we, PSIDS (Tuvalu, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Federated States of Micronesia, Vanuatu, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Kiribati, Palau, Nauru, Marshall Islands and Fiji) welcome it whole heartedly.

As a global community, equity in access to affordable vaccines is the best way to collectively respond to the pandemic. It is the best way to save lives. It is the best way to restart the recovery process.

We acknowledge the unprecedented collaboration between Governments’ and the private sector in the rapid development and production of several vaccines, and the role of the UN system in coordinating the global response to the COVID-19 pandemic and immunization, through the WHO and the ACT-Accelarator framework.

We acknowledge the generous support by member states and the private sector to the COVAX facility and join the call for increased funding.

PSIDs restates its deep concern that today, five (5) PSIDs have still not received any vaccines. We welcome this political declaration as an important starting point to correct this gross inequity in the Pacific, and across the world.

I thank you.