UN General Assembly High-level Week: The Challenge of a Lifetime: Ensuring Universal Access to COVID-19 Health Technologies

The COVID-19 crisis has demonstrated that ensuring the right to health of all citizens in all countries is a matter of utmost urgency, and that no one will be safe until everyone is safe. The pandemic knows no borders, and can only be tackled through an unprecedented effort of global solidarity and international cooperation. The impacts of the pandemic, however, are not felt equally across and within societies, and particular attention must be paid to leave no one behind in the response and recovery.

Watch the webcast here

On September 25th, during the 75th anniversary of the United Nations, leaders from around the world came together to call for a fair and equitable approach to the development, production, and distribution of vaccines for COVID-19. This high-level event, hosted by the president of Costa Rica and co-sponsored by the World Health Organization, UNAIDS, and CIC/the Pathfinders for Peaceful, Just and Inclusive Societies, explored ways to ensure universal access to COVID-19 health technologies.

The above short video shares highlights of the discussion. Speakers explained the vision and status of the COVID-19 Technology Access Pool (C-TAP), discussed ongoing research and development for COVID-19 tools, and issued a call to action for member states, intergovernmental and nongovernmental organizations, and other key stakeholders to support a People’s Vaccine.

In her closing remarks, moderator Sarah Cliffe noted:

“There were three messages that came out of this event. One is that we have a real political challenge: vaccine nationalism is self-defeating, but we know that it is difficult for politicians to explain how actually cooperating is going to make their own populations safer. So finding the political leadership to be able to communicate this, and to explain why nationalism will slow us down—that we will be quicker and safer if we all work together—is going to be very important. The second is that we have a major challenge in supply—not enough is being done. We have the institutions that would be able to expand the supply if there was an agreement to share the know-how. I think it is very important to be clear on that. And third, we still have a challenge in creating the mechanism to coordinate purchasing, and of making sure that low-income countries are fully funded to participate in that mechanism.” A recording of the full event can be viewed here.


  • H.E. Mr. Carlos Alvarado Quesada, President of Costa Rica
  • H.E. Mr. Michael D. Higgins, President of Ireland
  • H.E. Ms. Retno Marsudi, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Indonesia
  • Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization
  • Ms. Winnie Byanyima, Executive Director, UNAIDS
  • H.E Dr. Fitsum Assefa Adela, Minister in Charge of the Planning and Development Commission of Ethiopia
  • Mr. James Love, Director, Knowledge Ecology International
  • Dr. Mariângela Simão, Assistant Director General for Access to Medicines and Health Products, World Health Organization
  • Mr. Alberto Rodriguez, Director of Strategy and Operations, Office of the Vice President of Human Development, World Bank
  • Moderator: Sarah Cliffe, Director of the Center on International Cooperation

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