WHO / WORLD HEALTH ASSEMBLY OPENING

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29-Nov-2021 00:06:30
At the opening of a special session of the World Health Assembly, WHO chief Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus said the emergence of the “highly-mutated” Omicron variant is “another reminder that although many of us might think we are done with COVID-19, it is not done with us." WHO

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STORY: WHO / WORLD HEALTH ASSEMBLY OPENING
TRT: 6:30
SOURCE: WHO
RESTRICTIONS: NONE
LANGUAGE: ENGLISH / NATS

DATELINE: 29 NOVEMBER 2021, GENEVA, SWITZERLAND

SHOTLIST:

FILE - GENEVA, SWITZERLAND

1. Wide shot, WHO headquarters exterior

29 NOVEMBER 2021, GENEVA, SWITZERLAND

2. Various shots, delegates at World Health Assembly special session
3. Wide shot, Dr Tedros walking to podium
4. Wide shot, Dr Tedros at podium
5. SOUNDBITE (English) Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General, World Health Organization (WHO):
“Instead of meeting in the aftermath of the pandemic, we are meeting as a fresh wave of cases and deaths crashes into Europe, with untold and uncounted deaths around the world. And although other regions are seeing declining or stable trends, if there’s one thing we have learned, it’s that no region, no country, no community and no individual is safe until we are all safe. The emergence of the highly-mutated Omicron variant underlines just how perilous and precarious our situation is. South Africa and Botswana should be thanked for detecting, sequencing and reporting this variant, not penalized."
6. Wide shot, Dr Tedros at podium
7. SOUNDBITE (English) Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General, World Health Organization (WHO):
"Indeed, Omicron demonstrates just why the world needs a new accord on pandemics: our current system disincentivizes countries from alerting others to threats that will inevitably land on their shores. We don’t yet know whether Omicron is associated with more transmission, more severe disease, more risk of reinfections, or more risk of evading vaccines. Scientists at WHO and around the world are working urgently to answer these questions. We shouldn’t need another wake-up call; we should all be wide awake to the threat of this virus. But Omicron’s very emergence is another reminder that although many of us might think we are done with COVID-19, it is not done with us."
8. Med shot, Dr Tedros at podium
9. SOUNDBITE (English) Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General, World Health Organization (WHO):
"But a year ago, as we began to see some countries striking bilateral deals with manufacturers, we warned that the poorest and most vulnerable would be trampled in the global stampede for vaccines. And that is exactly what has happened. More than 80 percent of the world’s vaccines have gone to G20 countries; low-income countries, most of them in Africa, have received just 0.6 percent of all vaccines. We understand and support every government’s responsibility to protect its own people. It's natural. But vaccine equity is not charity; it’s in every country’s best interests. No country can vaccinate its way out of the pandemic alone. The longer vaccine inequity persists, the more opportunity this virus has to spread and evolve in ways we cannot predict nor prevent."
10. Wide shot, Dr Tedros at podium
11. Med shot, Dr Tedros at podium
12. SOUNDBITE (English) Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General, World Health Organization (WHO):
"The COVID-19 pandemic is a powerful demonstration that health is not a luxury, but a human right; not a cost, but an investment; not simply an outcome of development, but the foundation of social, economic and political stability and security. In the coming months and years, other crises will demand our attention, and distract us from the urgency of taking action now. Now is the time for all countries to make the choice to invest in a healthier, safer and fairer future. Global health security is too important to be left to chance, or goodwill, or shifting geopolitical currents, or the vested interests of companies and shareholders."
13. Wide shot, Dr Tedros at podium
14. SOUNDBITE (English) Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General, World Health Organization (WHO):
"And this is a historic moment. But it is just the end of the beginning. We still have a long road to travel together. Reaching our destination will take negotiation, compromise, and time. The task is urgent, but it also requires patience. The stakes are high, but so are the rewards. A convention, agreement or other international instrument will not solve every problem. But it will provide the overarching framework to foster greater international cooperation and provide a platform for strengthening global health security."
15. Wide shot, Dr Tedros leaving podium
16. Pan left, World Health Assembly special session

STORYLINE:

At the opening of a special session of the World Health Assembly, WHO chief Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus said the emergence of the “highly-mutated” Omicron variant is “another reminder that although many of us might think we are done with COVID-19, it is not done with us."

This is only the second time in history that a special session of the World Health Assembly (WHA) has been called, which normally meets in May. The Assembly will consider the benefits of developing a WHO convention, agreement or other international instrument on pandemic preparedness and response with a view towards the establishment of an intergovernmental process to draft and negotiate such a convention, agreement or other international instrument on pandemic preparedness and response, taking into account the report of the Working Group on Strengthening WHO Preparedness and Response to Health Emergencies.

Dr Tedros told the WHA that, instead of meeting in the aftermath of the pandemic, “we are meeting as a fresh wave of cases and deaths crashes into Europe, with untold and uncounted deaths around the world.” He said declining or stable trends in other regions, “if there’s one thing we have learned, it’s that no region, no country, no community and no individual is safe until we are all safe.” He added, “The emergence of the highly-mutated Omicron variant underlines just how perilous and precarious our situation is. South Africa and Botswana should be thanked for detecting, sequencing and reporting this variant, not penalized."

The WHO Director-General stressed the need for a new accord on pandemics as the current system “disincentivizes countries from alerting others to threats that will inevitably land on their shores.”

Dr Tedros said, “We don’t yet know whether Omicron is associated with more transmission, more severe disease, more risk of reinfections, or more risk of evading vaccines. Scientists at WHO and around the world are working urgently to answer these questions. We shouldn’t need another wake-up call; we should all be wide awake to the threat of this virus. But Omicron’s very emergence is another reminder that although many of us might think we are done with COVID-19, it is not done with us."

Dr Tedros said WHO had warned a year ago, when some countries were striking bilateral deals with manufacturers, that “the poorest and most vulnerable would be trampled in the global stampede for vaccines; and that is exactly what has happened.” He added, “More than 80 percent of the world’s vaccines have gone to G20 countries; low-income countries, most of them in Africa, have received just 0.6 percent of all vaccines. We understand and support every government’s responsibility to protect its own people. It's natural. But vaccine equity is not charity; it’s in every country’s best interests. No country can vaccinate its way out of the pandemic alone. The longer vaccine inequity persists, the more opportunity this virus has to spread and evolve in ways we cannot predict nor prevent."

The WHO chief stressed that this pandemic is a “powerful demonstration that health is not a luxury, but a human right; not a cost, but an investment; not simply an outcome of development, but the foundation of social, economic and political stability and security.” He said, “In the coming months and years, other crises will demand our attention, and distract us from the urgency of taking action now. Now is the time for all countries to make the choice to invest in a healthier, safer and fairer future. Global health security is too important to be left to chance, or goodwill, or shifting geopolitical currents, or the vested interests of companies and shareholders."

Dr Tedros said this is a "historic moment” which marks "just the end of the beginning.” He said, “We still have a long road to travel together. Reaching our destination will take negotiation, compromise, and time. The task is urgent, but it also requires patience. The stakes are high, but so are the rewards. A convention, agreement or other international instrument will not solve every problem. But it will provide the overarching framework to foster greater international cooperation and provide a platform for strengthening global health security."
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