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G20 urged to launch a global deal and move swiftly to lessen the impact of future pandemics

12th July 2021 about a 3 minute read
“The current pandemic was not a black swan event. Indeed, it may ultimately be seen as a dress rehearsal for the next pandemic, which could come at any time, in the next decade or even in the next year, and could be even more profoundly damaging to human security." G20 report panellists

The world cannot wait for Covid-19 to be over before making global investments and reforms to head off future pandemics, a new G20 report warns.

Future pandemics threaten to be more frequent and increasingly dangerous, the High Level Independent Panel (HLIP), say in their report, A Global Deal for our Pandemic Age.

The Panel calls on the G20 and international community to move swiftly to close current shortfalls in the international COVID-19 response.

They also call for a public increase in international financing of at least US$75 billion over the next five years, or US$15billion per year, to plug major gaps in prevention and preparedness – at least doubling current spending levels.

Four pressing preparedness gaps are identified:

  • infectious disease surveillance
  • resilience of national health systems
  • global capacity to supply and deliver vaccines and
  • global governance.

Future pandemic risks can be substantially reduced if these gaps are addressed, the Panel say.

Their proposals include establishing a new US$10bn annual Global Health Threats Fund, plus an additional $5bn to support institutions like the WHO.

And they acknowledge that the investments they call for are larger than that which the  international community has been willing to spend in the past, but say it’s negligible compared to the costs of another major epidemic.

The HLIP on Financing the Global Commons for Pandemic Preparedness and Response was established on 26 January 2021.

It was tasked with:

  • Identifying the gaps in the financing system for global commons for pandemic prevention, surveillance, preparedness and response.
  • Proposing actionable solutions to meet these gaps on a systematic and sustainable basis, and optimally leverage resources from the public, private and philanthropic sectors and the international financial institutions.

Their report says:

“The current pandemic was not a black swan event. Indeed, it may ultimately be seen as a dress rehearsal for the next pandemic, which could come at any time, in the next decade or even in the next year, and could be even more profoundly damaging to human security.

“The world does not lack the capacity to limit pandemic risks and to respond much more effectively than it has responded to COVID-19.

“We have the ideas, the scientific and technological resources, the corporate and civil society capabilities, and the finances needed.

“Our collective task must be to better mobilize and deploy these resources to sharply reduce the risk of future pandemics, and the human and economic damage they bring. This will require whole-of-government and whole-of society responsibilities, not only those of health authorities and medical scientists. It will mean thinking internationally, not just domestically. It must also involve bolstering multilateralism, not only bilateral initiatives. “

It concludes:

“Acting and investing collectively for pandemic security, together with climate change, represents the primary international challenge of our times. Failure to establish the basis for international cooperation will make it almost impossible to address these existential challenges.”

The report will be considered ahead of the G20’s Joint Finance and Health Ministers meeting in October.