More than 160 leaders from around the world, including many prominent former and present heads of state, signed a letter calling on G20 members to take bold action to strengthen weak health systems in regions of Latin America and Africa and to allocate US$8 billion in emergency funding for relief amid the ever-escalating public health and economic crises caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. As the virus continues to rip through even the best established and funded health systems, the letter's authors urged G20 members, who represent some of the wealthiest and most industrialized nations, to immediately establish a task force with executive powers to centrally coordinate global COVID-19 containment and treatment plans.
Efforts to contain the global spread of the deadly novel coronavirus have been haphazard and splintered, with nation after nation putting too little too late towards prevention and primarily taking national or sub-national measures which do not dovetail. Experts have highlighted again and again that this approach is fundamentally unsuitable to mitigate a pandemic at this scale; national lockdowns can do little to prevent the spread of an infectious disease whose contagions know no borders. Though daily life for most people on the planet is now fundamentally unrecognizable, supranational organizations have thus far failed to respond with a plan or package to scale with the level of shock echoing through the global economy and society at large. Radio silence from some of the default leaders on the world stage is deafening.
According to the letter, US$1 billion is desperately needed by the World Health Organization (WHO), which is at present operating in large part on revenue from individual philanthropic donations, which is hardly a sustainable or reliable source of funding. Authors call for a further US$3 billion in spending on vaccine research and US$2.3 billion for therapeutics. The letter further proposes the convening of a global pledging conference, to be hosted by the G20 task force, to address the state of emergency.