Remarks by HHS Secretary Becerra at the Global COVID-19 Summit

Xavier Becerra

Second Global COVID-19 Summit
Virtual Event

On Thursday, May 12, 2022, Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra delivered remarks at the second Global COVID-19 Summit, co-hosted by the United States, Belize, Germany, Indonesia, and Senegal. During the Summit, Secretary Becerra discussed our continued fight against the COVID-19 pandemic—getting shots in arms, enhancing access to tests and treatments, protecting the health workforce, and financing and building health security for future pandemics and other health crises.


As Prepared for Delivery

Thank you to President Biden and the other Summit co-hosts – Belize, Germany, Indonesia, and Senegal, and in particular my co-hosts for this critical session, the Minister of Health and Wellness Kevin Bernard of Belize and the Minister for Development, Svenja Schulze, of Germany– and our session moderator Bill Rodriguez from FIND.

As we heard in the previous session, vaccination remains a critical tool in the fight against this disease. And I’m pleased to confirm that the United States, through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), is providing an additional $15 million for the U.S. Global Vaccine Initiative (Global VAX). This is a down payment on getting shots into arms, and we are determined to continue this important work.

And as President Biden announced, NIH has licensed eleven COVID-19 technologies to the Medicines Patent Pool under the WHO COVID-19 Technology Access Pool, and we hope that more patent rights holders will contribute to this initiative.

While expanding our vaccination efforts is vital, we also need to focus on expanding global access to testing and treatment for COVID-19.

Testing remains critical for tracking the pandemic, including for identifying new variants.

But it’s also critical for diagnosis, so that people can be linked to needed care, including new life-saving treatments that are becoming available.

The United States recently took new steps to make treatments even easier to access in our country and to make sure health care providers and patients know about their safety, efficacy, and availability.

We launched a nationwide Test-to-Treat initiative in March that gives people an opportunity to rapidly access free treatments at thousands of pharmacy-based clinics, federally-qualified health centers, and long-term care facilities.

We’re nearly doubling the number of places that COVID-19 oral antiviral treatments are available in the coming weeks.

We’re supporting medical providers with more guidance and tools to understand and prescribe treatments, and we continue to educate people about safety and efficacy.

As a result of these and other actions, the rate of people taking oral antivirals has more than doubled over the last several weeks.

We also continue to focus on tackling disparities in who gets access to care. And we want to work with all our partners to facilitate access to COVID-19 products for the hardest-hit places and highest-risk people, everywhere around the world.

The U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) is committed to doing its part. 

Under existing U.S. law, FDA can review generic drug applications seeking tentative approval of a COVID-19 therapeutic.

And FDA prioritizes the review of certain generic applications, including applications from the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and applications for products that help address public health emergencies, which would include generic versions of approved COVID-19 therapeutics.

I’m also very hopeful about the work that the United States Agency for International Development will be starting in partnership with Global Fund, Unitaid, and others to scale up testing and treatment in up to eight countries, as well as the Clinton Health Access Initiative’s announcement of their work to expand access.

Our government is committed to working with all of you on this important issue, and I look forward to continuing this critical dialogue through my office and other HHS divisions. Thank you.

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