Editorial: A high-powered global response is required to defeat COVID-19

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A 165-strong international group including 92 former Presidents and Prime ministers have penned an open letter addressed to G20 leaders, demanding the creation of a G20 executive task force and an immediate global pledging conference that would approve and coordinate a multi-billion-dollar coronavirus fighting fund.

Among other concerns, the group wants to speed up the search for a vaccine, cure and treatment, as well as revive the global economy, while calling for global collaboration and commitment for funding ‘far beyond the current capacity of existing international institutions.

The letter also urged the coordination of fiscal stimuli to avoid a recession becoming a depression. Indeed, these are not normal times and the reaction of the 165-strong group is indicative of the peril that appears to be grasping civilisation.

It replicates globally the sort of trust fund created by the government of Ghana to bridge the funding gap occasioned by the coronavirus outbreak. The group notes sadly that health systems – even the most sophisticated and best-funded – are buckling under pressures from the virus.

The group’s call for an action plan is very crucial, as it notes that if nothing is done rapid spread of the virus to 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.

Therefore, the admonition here is to adopt the biblical teaching of being one’s brother’s keeper and collectively come up with a remedy to curtail this virus; or else the whole global community runs the risk of a resurgence if it lingers in any part of the globe untreated.

“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.”

Living in a region where health systems are weak and underdeveloped, the wisdom of the 165-prominent group appears to be the best option for tackling global spread of the COVID-19 pandemic and ensuring a safe and a restored global economy.

We hope that the response will be as urgent as required.

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