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Cooperation, COVID-19 and connections: Day 1 at The Davos Agenda 2022

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Global leaders addressed the virtual Davos Agenda 2022 today. Image: REUTERS/Denis Balibouse/File Photo

Joe Myers
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Davos Agenda

This article is part of: The Davos Agenda

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  • The first day of The Davos Agenda 2022 heard from Xi Jinping, President of the People's Republic of China, Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of India and António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations.
  • COVID-19, inequality and the role of technology all featured as key topics.
  • Global collaboration was central to many discussions as was the next stages of the pandemic and the importance of vaccines.

On the first day of The Davos Agenda 2022 we heard from Xi Jinping, President of the People's Republic of China, Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of India and António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations.

We also had sessions on what's likely to come next in the COVID-19 pandemic and on technology - in particular the need for greater access and the role its played in the pandemic.

If you haven't managed to catch it all, here are three things you might want to take away.

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The Davos Agenda 2022

International cooperation has been key in tackling COVID-19

International cooperation has played a significant role in tackling the pandemic so far, President Xi Jinping told The Davos Agenda 2022.

"The international community has fought a tenacious battle," he said.


Countries need to continue to work together, President Xi said. Closing the global immunization gap is part of this.


This global effort to immunize the world against COVID-19 was given a boost at the weekend, with the news that COVAX - the vaccine-sharing facility - has now delivered one billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines.

Richard Hatchett, CEO of CEPI, which co-leads COVAX, alongside Gavi and the World Health Organization, said support will be vital in helping countries to build mass vaccination programmes and deliver vaccines at speed.


Further collaboration will remain vital, both in vaccine equity, but also their ongoing development. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases in the United States, explained the ongoing efforts to find commonalities between variants. "It's a very, very important scientific goal," he explained.


Prime Minister Narendra Modi stressed that multilateral organizations must be capable of tackling today's challenges, though.


But, more work is needed - whether in response to the pandemic or more widely. António Guterres told his special address that there's been a 'global inability to support developing countries in their hour of need.'


And he called for reform of the global financial system to ensure it works for all countries without being biased.


What 2022 could bring for the pandemic

Challenges remain in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, though.

Annelies Wilder-Smith, Professor of Emerging Infectious Diseases, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, stressed that Omicron will not be the last variant. The questions are - where, when and will it be more or less dangerous, she explains.


There are lessons to take from the history of infectious diseases, added Anthony Fauci. We've only eradicated one infectious disease - smallpox - and that won't happen with this virus, he says.


We have to anticipate that COVID will start to behave more like flu - and has the potential to, unpredictably, become pandemic at any time, Richard Hatchett added.


So what of vaccines? Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel explained the work that's ongoing to ensure COVID-19 vaccines are effective against new variants.

Manufacturers are now working on COVID-19 vaccines for the Northern Hemisphere's autumn, he said. And Moderna hopes to offer, in the future, a booster for both the flu and COVID-19 in a single dose.


We must ensure an equal recovery

The next stages of the pandemic mean confronting it with equity and fairness, António Guterres said. Vaccine inequity remains too high, he stressed.


And, if you leave anyone behind, in the end, you leave everyone behind, he said.

The process of global development is suffering severe disruption, with declines in the human development index for the first time in 30 years, President Xi Jinping explained.


The COVID-19 pandemic has also highlighted the inequalities that exist in tech access - but also why it's so important.

The Fourth Industrial Revolution will be key to tackling the world's biggest challenges, explained Sunil Bharti Mittal, Chairman, Bharti Enterprises. Coverage is an issue, but affordability is a major challenge too, he said.


It's not a 'good-to-have' to be connected, it's a human right, Hans Vestberg, the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Verizon Communications, said.

That's why the EDISON Alliance launched the 1 Billion Lives Challenge last year, he explained.


Governments across the world, including Rwanda's, are grappling with the common challenges of access and affordability, said Paula Ingabire, Minister of Information Communication Technology and Innovation, Ministry of Information Communication Technology and Innovation of Rwanda.


And it's on the agenda in India too, with an enormous amount of work underway to improve access, explained Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

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