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WHO Director-General's opening remarks at the launch of fundraising initiative by Qatar Red Crescent Society for vaccine equity

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Your Excellency Sheikh Abdullah bin Thamer Al Thani, President of the Qatar Red Crescent Society,

Honorable Ministers, Excellencies, dear colleagues and friends,

Assalamu Alaikum, and Ramadan Mubarak,

Thank you for the opportunity of joining you today, and thank you for your commitment to vaccine equity.

The COVID-19 pandemic has been a devastating demonstration that we are one humanity, and that we can only face shared threats with shared solutions.

While the pandemic has affected all of us, the poorest and most marginalized have been hit hardest - both in terms of lives and livelihoods lost.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, WHO has been working with many partners to scale up the distribution of vaccines, tests, personal protective equipment and other essential supplies all over the world.

More than 700 million vaccine doses have been administered globally, but over 87% have gone to high- or upper middle-income countries, while low-income countries have received just 0.2%.

The inequitable distribution of vaccines is not just a moral outrage, it is also economically and epidemiologically self-defeating.

The more transmission, the more variants. And the more variants that emerge, the more likely it is that they will evade vaccines.

The fastest way to end this pandemic is by suppressing the virus everywhere at the same time.

WHO continues to work with our partners to increase the production and equitable distribution of vaccines, through COVAX.

Vaccinating at this scale and in this timeframe has never been done before, but we can face these challenges -- with your help.

I warmly welcome the fundraising initiative by the Qatar Red Crescent Society being announced today, which will generate new resources to expand access to COVID-19 vaccines.

This initiative is setting an important new precedent by calling on zakat for this noble purpose.

The choice of the Qatari people, and other peoples in the region, to direct their zakat to vaccine equity is an affirmation that we are all in this fight together. We are one global community.

I thank our partners at the Qatar Red Crescent Society for their efforts to bring this campaign to life and to make it a success.

Your donations have made a significant impact all over the world.

We know that we can only defeat COVID-19 together.

Thank you very much.