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Four global organisations urge US$ 15 bln grants this year to fight pandemics

WASHINGTON (Xinhua) -- The International Monetary Fund (IMF) and three other global organisations on Tuesday urged the allocation of US$15 billion in grants this year to fight pandemics and strengthen health systems both domestically and overseas.

A medical staff member adjusts a sign in the wind at a fast COVID-19 test screening tent in Paris, France, April 1, 2022.

The IMF, in partnership with the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), the Global Fund, and Wellcome Trust, published “A Global Strategy to Manage the Long-term Risks of COVID-19” working paper, which calls for a more “comprehensive” and “integrated” pandemic response from the international community.
“It is now evident that COVID-19 will be with us for the long term, and there are very different scenarios for how it could evolve, from a mild endemic scenario to a dangerous variant scenario,” the working paper noted.
“This realisation calls for a new strategy that manages both the uncertainty and the long-term risks of COVID-19,” it continued.
“Overall, health security is economic security,” said IMF’s First Deputy Managing Director Gita Gopinath, who previously served as the Fund’s chief economist. “The international community should recognise that its pandemic financing addresses a systemic risk to the global economy.”
Gopinath noted that the IMF’s January World Economic Outlook Update estimated the cumulative losses from the pandemic to reach 13.8 trillion dollars from 2020 to 2024. “The cost of inaction - for all of us - is very high. We need to act - now,” she said.
Echoing her remarks, Jeremy Farrar, director of Wellcome Trust and a renowned medical researcher, said “now is not the time to ease up,” noting that the virus’ next move is “anything but certain” and the risk of new variants remains high.
“We need to set our sights on developing next generation vaccines that can block transmission and won’t require endless boosters, strengthening genomic surveillance globally so we can identify and track new variants and improving global access to vaccines, treatments and tests,” Farrar said. “Leaving any countries unprotected puts us all at risk.” The newly released working paper laid out four policy implications: achieve equitable access beyond vaccines to encompass a comprehensive toolkit; monitor the evolving virus and dynamically upgrade the toolkit; transition from the acute response to a sustainable strategy toward COVID-19, balanced and integrated with other health and social priorities; adopt a unified risk-mitigation approach to future infectious disease threats beyond COVID-19.
Accordingly, the international community should allocate additional funding to fight pandemics and strengthen health systems both domestically and overseas, the paper argued. This will require about 15 billion dollars in grants this year and 10 billion dollars annually after that. “This price tag is substantial, but failure to invest now - and build on the gains made in the response to COVID-19 - will result in human and economic costs that will reverberate for generations,” said Richard Hatchett, CEO of CEPI.

(Latest Update April 7, 2022)

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