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A Letter to G20 Governments

33 377 217
07.04.2020

LONDON – We are writing to call for immediate internationally coordinated action –
within the next few days – to address our deepening global health and economic crises caused by COVID-19.

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    The communique from the G20 Extraordinary Leaders’ Summit on March 26, 2020, recognized the gravity and urgency of the entwined public health and economic crises, but we now require urgent specific measures that can be agreed on with speed and at scale: emergency support for global health initiatives led by the World Health Organization (WHO) and emergency measures to restore the global economy. Both require world leaders to commit to funding far beyond the current capacity of our existing international institutions.

    In 2008-2010, the immediate economic crisis could be surmounted when the economic fault line – under-capitalization of the global banking system – was tackled. Now, however, the economic emergency will not be resolved until the health emergency is effectively addressed: the health emergency will not end simply by conquering the disease in one country alone, but by ensuring recovery from COVID-19 in all countries.

    Global Health Measures

    All health systems – even the most sophisticated and best funded – are buckling under the pressures of the virus. Yet if we do nothing as the disease spreads in poorer African, Asian, and Latin American cities and in fragile communities which have little testing equipment, ventilators, and medical supplies, and where social distancing and even washing hands are difficult to achieve, COVID-19 will persist there and re-emerge to hit the rest of the world with further rounds that will prolong the crisis.

    World leaders must immediately agree to commit $8 billion – as set out by the Global Preparedness Monitoring Board – to fill the most urgent gaps in the COVID-19 response.

    This includes:

    • $1 billion this year urgently needed by the WHO: This would enable the WHO to carry out its critically important mandate in full. While it has launched a public appeal – 200,000 individuals and organizations have generously donated more than $100 million – it cannot be expected to depend on charitable donations.
    • $3 billion for vaccines: The Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) is coordinating the global research effort to develop and scale up effective COVID-19 vaccines. In addition, Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance will have an important role procuring and equitably distributing vaccines to the poorest countries and requires $7.4 billion for its replenishment: this should be fully funded.
    • $2.25 billion for therapeutics: The COVID-19 Therapeutics Accelerator aims to deliver 100 million treatments by the end of 2020 and is seeking these funds to rapidly develop and scale-up access to therapeutics.
    • Instead of each country, or state or province within it, competing for a share of the existing capacity, with the risk of rapidly increasing prices, we should also be vastly increasing capacity by supporting the WHO in coordinating the global production and procurement of medical supplies, such as testing kits, personal protection equipment, and ITU technology to meet fully the worldwide demand. We will also need to stockpile and distribute essential equipment.
    • A wider group of central banks should be given access to the arrangements for currency swaps and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) should enter into swap arrangements with the major central banks. The IMF should use those hard-currency resources and establish its own swap line facility to provide emergency financial support to emerging and developing nations. But it is vital that if we are to prevent mass redundancies, the guarantees that are being given in each country are rapidly followed through by banks via on-the-ground support for companies and individuals.
    • The emerging economies – and in particular those of the poorest countries – need special help, not the least in ensuring that support reaches all those affected by the drastic decrease in economic activity. The IMF has said it will mobilize all of its available resources. There should be an additional allocation of around $500-$600 billion in Special Drawing Rights (SDRs). At the same time, to ensure sufficient funding for individual countries, we encourage IMF members to allow lending........

      © Project Syndicate