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Speech by EU President von der Leyen at the World Health Organization’s 73rd Assembly

Dear Director-General, Dr Tedros,

Dear friends of the World Health Organization,

In the last three months, we all have seen how crucial it is to join forces for our individual and collective health.

Only two weeks after the first coronavirus outbreak, laboratories across the world, from South Korea to Germany, were able to work on the full sequence of the coronavirus genome.

And in a matter of days, they developed a test for the virus.

That was possible because of the share of information on a global scale.

In times of a global pandemic, international cooperation should be a no-brainer.

Now is a time to act. We need to fight and defeat coronavirus in all continents.

We need tests, medicines and a vaccine, and we need them to be affordable for all.

Last month, you called on all nations to join forces – so that a cure and a vaccine could not only be developed but distributed all across the world.

The European Union responded immediately.

We hosted a virtual pledging conference, raising USD 8 billion.

We put Europe’s convening power at the service of the UN system and of all humankind.

This will accelerate the development of much needed vaccines and therapeutics.

And we will see to it that once developed, they can be deployed universally, and be available to all.

A corona vaccine should not be a luxury for the chosen few, but a universal common good.

Let me thank the co-sponsors and all of you for our good cooperation.

In times like these, the greatest act of courage is to play as a team.

This does not mean that, once the dust will have settled, and once we have delivered on our pledge to beat this virus, we should not look into ways to modernise the WHO, to see what should be done for the WHO to continue to live up to new challenges.

Because we need multilateral approaches.

But let us for now focus on our most immediate challenge.

This is the time for cooperation.

This is the time for science and solidarity.

This is the time for all humanity to rally around a common cause.

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