G7 leaders have vowed to do whatever is necessary to address the COVID-19 pandemic. As the virus continues its rapid global spread, the catastrophic potential becomes ever more obvious. Health systems, economies, the fabric of society, all are at risk. Addressing a global crisis of this magnitude requires tough decisions by leaders of every country affected.
As countries step-up to the challenge, they must also unite, rather than retreat behind borders. Global powers, like the G7 and G20, need to be the force that brings and underpins a unified global response. Their commitment is critical to ensure the stability of the global economy and to support a coordinated research effort to develop treatments for COVID-19 – but their words must be swiftly matched by action. Expectations for this week’s G7 meeting were high, but the result was underwhelming.
Leaders must do more to ensure that all countries have the support they need to effectively manage the pandemic. Alongside this, it is becoming increasingly clear that we urgently need more investment in vaccines, treatments and diagnostics if we are to have the best chance of saving lives and bringing this pandemic to an end.
In recent weeks there have been unprecedented announcements aimed at supporting the global economy. The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund have moved rapidly to commit up to $12 billion and $50 billion respectively to address the economic and fiscal impact of COVID-19.
Big as these sums sound, critical gaps remain. This funding will help governments take national action and bolster economies, but it does not cover everything that is needed to tackle this virus and protect the world’s health. In the short term, at least $8 billion is needed to fund research, development and supply of treatments for all, and support for public health measures in countries with the weakest health systems.