165 past and present leaders say to G20: approve now $8bn emergency global health funding to prevent second wave of coronavirus

  • Debt interest payments of poorest countries should be waived now; global fiscal co-ordination essential to avoid recession becoming depression

  • Warning that without rapid support, 1.2million covid-19 deaths are possible in Africa and Asia’s poorest countries amid danger of igniting second round of disease in rest of the world

  • Race for vaccine, cure, test kits, ventilators and protective equipment for health
  • workers – open letter says – demands enhanced co-operation and concerted global
  • push to increase capacity

Egypt, Cairo – .A 165-strong international group including 92 former Presidents and Prime Ministers, along with current economic and health leaders in the developed and developing

world have come together to demand the creation of a G20 executive task force and an

immediate global pledging conference which would approve and co-ordinate a multi-billion

dollar coronavirus fighting fund.

In an open letter addressed to G20 leaders the group – which wants both to speed up the

search for a vaccine, cure and treatments and revive the global economy – urges global

collaboration and commitment to funding ‘far beyond the current capacity of our existing

international institutions’.

“The economic emergency will not be resolved until the health emergency is 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,” the statement says.

The plea is for agreement within days for:

  • $8billion to rapidly hasten the global effort for vaccines, cure and treatment;

  • $35billion to support health systems, from ventilators to test kits and protective equipment for health workers;

  • And $150billion for developing countries to fight the medical and economic crisis,
  • prevent a second wave of the disease flowing back into countries as they come out of
  • the first wave.This means waiving debt interest payments for the poorest countries,
  • including $44billion due this year from Africa. A $500-$600billion issue of additional resources by the IMF in the form of special drawing rights is proposed.”

The letter also urges the co-ordination of fiscal stimuli to avoid a recession becoming a


While welcoming the G20’s first communique on the Covid-19 crisis, the 165-strong group are pressing the G20 to speed up an action plan.

The group states: “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 which have little testing equipment, hardly

any ventilators, and few 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 $1billion this year for WHO, $3billion for vaccines and $2.25 billion for 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.

“$35billion will be required, as highlighted by WHO, to support countries with weaker

health systems and especially vulnerable populations, including the provision of vital

medical supplies, surge support to the national health workforce (70% of whom in many

countries are underpaid women) and strengthening national resilience and preparedness.


“According to WHO, almost 30% of countries have no COVID-19 national preparedness

response plans and only half have a national infection prevention and control program.

Health systems in lower income countries will struggle to cope; even the most optimistic

estimates from Imperial College London suggest there will be 900,000 deaths in Asia and

300,000 in Africa.

“We propose convening a global pledging conference – its purpose supported by a G20

Executive Task Force – to commit resources to meeting these emergency global health


On the Global Economic outlook, the group propose a range of measures and state:


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