KABUL (Pajhwok): The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman says the COVID-19 pandemic has proved international cooperation and joint action is the optimal way to overcome crises.
On the margins of the G20 summit, the Saudi G20 Presidency hosted a high-level side event on Pandemic Preparedness and Response.
G20 leaders, along with global organisations, stressed the need for a continued and coordinated response to the coronavirus pandemic, especially to support the most vulnerable, whilst increasing the pandemic preparedness spending for further research and innovation to create tools and vaccines.
“We are facing an unprecedented health challenge on the level of individuals, society and economy,” King Salman told the G20 leaders side-event: Pandemic Preparedness and Response.
King Salman described COVID-19 pandemic as a “true test” of the global health systems.
“We should focus on the most vulnerable categories. We will not be able to overcome this crisis, unless we provide support for all countries worldwide. No one is safe, until everyone is safe,” King Salman added.
The top priority now is ensuring the availability of the coronavirus vaccines, therapies and diagnostic tools in a fair and affordable manner.
“We are looking forward to crystallizing and implementing this initiative during the Italian Presidency next year,” King Salman pointed out.
“During our Presidency, with the support of the G20 members, we proposed the Access to Pandemic Tools (APT) initiative, which aims at ensuring focus on sustainable preparedness and response to counter any future pandemic. We look forward to furthering this discussion and implementation during the Italian Presidency next year.”
“Our cooperation will enable us to achieve our goal and protect lives and livelihoods to shape a better future and realize the opportunities of the 21st Century for all,” the King concluded.
Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, said: “The G20 itself has taken unprecedented measures…which allowed to reach important milestones — the access to the COVID tools Accelerator is one of those milestones.”
Argentina President Alberto Fernández, said: “Cooperation and solidarity are the two key elements to fight the Pandemic.”
French President Emmanuel Macron, said: “The only effective response to the pandemic will be a coordinated, global one, based on solidarity.”
“We can reasonably expect that before the end of the year, a vaccine will be available, which is totally unprecedented. But an even more difficult fight must be fought. It is that of universal access to health technologies against COVID-19,” Macron added.
Chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel said: “A global challenge, which is what the pandemic undoubtedly is, can only be overcome with a global effort.
“The G20 has a crucial responsibility in this area. For example, we have launched the ACT Accelerator and its COVAX facility. This unique global platform serves to promote the development, production and distribution of medicines, diagnostics and vaccines.”
President of South Korea Moon Jae-in said: “We must work together more closely in solidarity to defeat the coronavirus. I hope that the efforts of the G20 will inspire hope to the world.”
For his part, President of South Africa Cyril Ramaphosa said: “We are pleased there appears to be consensus in the G20 that access to an effective COVID-19 vaccine should be universal, it should also be fair and equitable.”
In his speech, the President of South Africa expressed his hope that the G20 countries, international partners, and financial institutions are to work with the African countries to help them rebuild their economies.
Ramaphosa affirmed the members’ commitment at the Extraordinary G20 Leaders Summit held in March to consolidate national, regional and global capabilities to respond effectively to future epidemics.
The world has been undergoing a health and economic crisis of an unprecedented scale and severity. As of November 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic has infected around 54 million people, claiming over 1 million lives worldwide.
The G20 Saudi Presidency has led international efforts by organizing, at the beginning of the pandemic, an Extraordinary Summit where G20 Leaders pledged to do whatever it takes to overcome the pandemic and protect lives, jobs, and the most vulnerable.
As a result of this Summit, G20 members have contributed to the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic with over $21 billion at the outset of the crisis to support health systems and the hunt for a vaccine.
Moreover, G20 made available over $14 billion in debt relief for developing nations and injected an unprecedented $11 trillion so far to safeguard the global economy.
Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Gavi Board chair, said: “Only through adequate financing for a global exit strategy like Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator (ACT-A) can economic vitality be restored at home and catastrophe in the poorest countries averted.
“A commitment by G20 leaders to invest the $4.6 billion to fill the ACT Accelerator’s immediate funding gap will save lives, lay the groundwork for mass procurement and delivery of ACTA Tools — tests, treatments, and vaccines — around the world.”
In her speech, she added that “a joint commitment to spend a proportion of future stimulus to mobilize the $24 billion needed in 2021 for the COVID-19 tools needed globally, the G20 will build a strong foundation to end the pandemic.”