Multilateral Organisations Seek End to COVID-19 with Fresh $50bn Investment
By Obinna Chima
The Director-General of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala; Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Kristalina Georgieva; Director-General of the World Health Organisation (WHO), Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus; and President of the World Bank, David Malpass have pledged to commit an estimated $50 billion in the fight against the COVID-19.
The sum is expected to help bring the pandemic to an end faster in the developing world, reduce infections and loss of lives, accelerate the economic recovery, and generate some $9 trillion in additional global output by 2025.
They noted in a joint statement yesterday, that as preparations are made for the G7 Summit in the UK next week, top of the agenda was how to end the COVID-19 pandemic and secure the global recovery.
“It is a win for all — while around 60 percent of the gains will go to emerging markets and developing economies, the remaining 40 per cent will benefit the developed world. And this is without taking into account the inestimable benefits on people’s health and lives.
“Investing $50 billion to end the pandemic is potentially the best use of public money we will see in our lifetimes. It will pay a huge development dividend and boost growth and well-being globally,” they added.
According to the leaders of the four multilateral institutions, by now it has become abundantly clear there would be no broad-based recovery without an end to the health crisis.
They stressed that access to vaccination was also key.
“There has been impressive progress on the vaccination front. Scientists have come up with multiple vaccines in record time. Unprecedented public and private financing has supported vaccine research, development and manufacturing scale-up. But a dangerous gap between richer and poorer nations persists.
“In fact, even as some affluent countries are already discussing the rollout of booster shots to their populations, the vast majority of people in developing countries—even front-line health workers— have still not received their first shot.
“The worst served are low-income nations which have received less than one per cent of vaccines administered so far,” the statement added.
They noted that increasingly, a two-track pandemic was developing, with richer countries having access and poorer ones being left behind.
Furthermore, they stressed that inequitable vaccine distribution was not only leaving untold millions of people vulnerable to the virus, but also allowing deadly variants to emerge and ricochet back across the world.
As variants continue to spread, even countries with advanced vaccination programs have been forced to re-impose stricter public health measures, and some have implemented travel restrictions, they added.
“In turn, the ongoing pandemic is leading to deepening divergence in economic fortunes, with negative consequences for all.
“It need not be this way. That is why we are calling today for a new level of international support for – and implementation of – a stepped up coordinated strategy, backed by new financing, to vaccinate the world.
“A recent proposal from IMF staff puts forward a plan with clear targets, pragmatic actions, and at a feasible cost. It builds on and supports the ongoing work of WHO, its partners in the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator initiative and its global vaccine access programme COVAX, as well as the work of the World Bank Group, the WTO and many others,” it added.
Shedding more light on the proposal, the statement explained that it entails, “first, increasing our ambition and vaccinating more people faster: WHO and its COVAX partners have set a goal of vaccinating approximately 30 per cent of the population in all countries by the end of 2021.
“But this can reach even 40 per cent through other agreements and surge investment, and at least 60 percent by the first half of 2022.
“To do so requires additional financing for low- and middle-income countries, with a very significant proportion in the form of grants and concessional financing.
“To urgently get more shots in arms, doses need to be donated immediately to developing countries synchronized with national vaccine deployment plans, including through COVAX.
“Cooperation on trade is also needed to ensure free cross-border flows and increasing supplies of raw materials and finished vaccines,” it added.