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WHO Director-General's opening remarks at the media briefing on COVID-19 - 29 May 2020

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President Alvarado,

Prime Minister Mottley,

Excellencies, dear colleagues and friends,

Since the beginning of the pandemic, science has been at the heart of WHO’s efforts to suppress transmission and save lives.

Science is moving with incredible speed. Almost every day there is more news about research into vaccines, diagnostics and therapeutics.

But will all people benefit from these tools? Or will they become another reason people are left behind? These are the two most important questions.

A month ago, WHO and partners launched the ACT Accelerator, to speed up the development, production and equitable distribution of vaccines, diagnostics and therapeutics for COVID-19.

Today we are joining 35 countries and numerous partners to launch the COVID-19 Technology Access Pool, or C-TAP.

C-TAP was first proposed by His Excellency President Carlos Alvarado of Costa Rica, and I’d like to thank His Excellency the President for his leadership and solidarity.

C-TAP is a sister initiative of the ACT Accelerator and offers concrete actions to achieve the objective of the ACT Accelerator, which is equitable access.

C-TAP has five priorities:

First, public disclosure of gene sequencing research;

Second, public disclosure of all clinical trial results;

Third, encouraging governments and research funders to include clauses in contracts with pharmaceutical companies about equitable distribution and publication of trial data;

Fourth, licensing treatments and vaccines to large and small producers;

And fifth, promoting open innovation models and technology transfer that increase local manufacturing and supply capacity.

Through C-TAP, we are inviting companies or governments that develop an effective therapeutic to contribute the patent to the Medicines Patent Pool, which would then sub-license the patent to generic manufacturers.

C-TAP is voluntary, and builds on the success of the Medicines Patent Pool in expanding access to treatments for HIV and hepatitis C.

WHO recognizes the important role that patents play in fuelling innovation.

But this is a time when people must take priority.

Tools to prevent, detect and treat COVID-19 are global public goods that must be accessible by all people.

Science is giving us solutions, but to make those solutions work for everyone, we need solidarity.

COVID-19 has highlighted the inequalities of our world. But it’s also offering us an opportunity to bridge those inequalities and build a fairer world – a world in which health is not a privilege for the few, but a common good.

Now it gives me enormous pleasure to introduce His Excellency Carlos Alvarado, the President of Costa Rica.

Muchas gracias, Presidente Alvarado, mi hermano. Mucho gusto por su liderazgo.

Thank you. Muchas gracias.