Maha Al-Wabel, general supervisor of the Municipal Innovation Center in the Eastern Province municipality

RIYADH: On the margins of the G20 summit, the Saudi G20 Presidency hosted on Saturday a high-level side event on Pandemic Preparedness and Response, during which King Salman spoke.

The G20 leaders along with global organizations emphasised the need for a continued coordinated response to the coronavirus pandemic, especially to support the most vulnerable, whilst increasing preparedness and spending for further research and innovation to create tools and vaccines.

Throughout the year, the G20 Saudi Presidency has led international efforts by organizing an Extraordinary Summit at the beginning of the pandemic, and discussed ways of protecting lives, jobs, and the most vulnerable.

G20 members have contributed to the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic with over $21 billion at the outset of the crisis to support health systems and the hunt for a vaccine. G20 also made available over $14 billion in debt relief for developing nations and injected an unprecedented $11 trillion so far to safeguard the global economy. 

As well as the king, 5he event also featured the Prime Minister of Italy Giuseppe Conte, President of Argentina Alberto Fernández, French president Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, President of South Korea Moon Jae-in and the president of South Africa Cyril Ramaphosa.

Addressing the meeting, King Salman made the following statement:

“Your Majesties, Your Excellencies, Your Highnesses,

It is my pleasure to welcome you to the Pandemic Preparedness event. The world is facing an unprecedented global health challenge on people,  communities, and economies.

From the onset of the pandemic and in an attempt to jumpstart the global response, we met in an extraordinary summit last March where we all took swift and collective actions to counter this crisis. We continue to do so.

The pandemic  has demonstrated that international cooperation is the optimal way to overcome  crises. We must focus on the most vulnerable segments. We must provide support for all countries of the world, for  we would not be safe until everyone is safe.

In April, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia joined forces with international organizations and global leaders to launch the Access to Covid Tools-Accelerator. We co-led the Global Coronavirus Pledging Event to meet the global shortage in developing and distributing vaccines and diagnostic tools, where the Kingdom contributed $500MN towards that end.

With the advances we are witnessing in the Covid-19 vaccine development, our top priority is to ensure affordable and equitable access to the vaccine and diagnostic tools for all.

This pandemic is a true test for our global health systems. Therefore, through the G20 Presidency, we utilized a number of vital initiatives to close the pandemic preparedness and response gaps.

During our Presidency, with the support of the G20 members , we proposed   the Access to Pandemic Tools (APT) initiative, which aims at ensuring  focus on sustainable preparedness and response to counter any future pandemic. We look forward to furthering this discussion and implementation during the Italian Presidency next year.

Together we can reach our goal of protecting lives, livelihoods and shaping a better world to realize the opportunities for the 21st century for all. In this regard we would like to hear form their Majesties, Highnesses, Excellencies to share their relevant initiatives and best practices.

Thank you.”

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