COVAX Vaccine Arrival By Ambassador Craig Cloud

The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated that an infectious disease outbreak anywhere is a threat to people everywhere.  COVID-19 is a global problem that requires a global solution.  The COVID-19 pandemic is one of the most pressing challenges to the health, well-being, and economic security of our time, and the global community must unite to end it.

Under the dire circumstances of this pandemic, which has taken such a heavy toll on the world, the United States is grateful that Botswana is now better equipped to combat the pandemic, and strongly welcomes the arrival of 33,600 doses of COVID-19 vaccine through COVAX on March 27th.  Bilateral donations of vaccines will not be sufficient or fast enough to end this pandemic.  As such, the United States is leading by example as the largest contributor to COVAX, providing $2 billion and committing an additional $2 billion in funds to Gavi in support of the COVAX Advance Market Commitment (AMC).

COVAX represents the best of us – based on the principles of equity, transparency, and common humanity, COVAX is a global solution to a global challenge.  Proven safe and effective vaccines are our most effective tool in combating the pandemic and the United States is proud to support COVAX, which only uses vaccines that have been rigorously tested and robustly proven to be safe and effective.

With this delivery, we have entered a new phase in the fight to end this pandemic.  While it seemed virtually impossible a year ago, unprecedented partnerships between governments, nongovernmental organizations, academia, and the private sector have brought several WHO-authorized safe, effective, and lifesaving COVID-19 vaccines to market, with more pending approval.  U.S. investments in COVAX support the purchase and delivery of safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines for the world’s most vulnerable and at-risk populations in 92 low- and middle-income countries.  This support is critical to controlling the pandemic, slowing the emergence of new variants, and helping to restart the global economy.

Global access to COVID-19 vaccines is critical to reduce the tragic loss of life, to control and end the pandemic, to mitigate the ongoing health and economic impacts, and to keep people safe across the globe.  The United States is committed to collaborating with partners, governments, and the private sector to support global COVID-19 vaccination efforts and to ensure COVAX’s success.  We are pleased to join the Ministry of Health and Wellness and partners in the international community to fight this pandemic together.

The United States has worked closely with the Government of Botswana since the start of the pandemic and has contributed $8.4 million worth of assistance to the COVID-19 response in Botswana.  These investments and commitments build on a long tradition.  Over the past two decades, the United States has provided more than $140 billion in global health assistance.

Longstanding health partnerships and investments in Botswana, including through President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), have provided the technical expertise and critical infrastructure to bolster preparedness and rapidly respond to COVID-19 needed to control the pandemic and save lives.  The United States is committed to working with Botswana and our partners the world over as we lead the global response to the COVID-19 pandemic and launch a sustained and inclusive recovery.