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165 VIPs Urge Powers for Billions      04/07 06:16

   Many former global leaders and other VIPs urged the world's 20 major 
industrialized nations to approve $8 billion in emergency funding to speed the 
search for a vaccine, cure and treatment for COVID-19 and prevent a second wave 
of the coronavirus pandemic.

   UNITED NATIONS (AP) -- Many former global leaders and other VIPs urged the 
world's 20 major industrialized nations to approve $8 billion in emergency 
funding to speed the search for a vaccine, cure and treatment for COVID-19 and 
prevent a second wave of the coronavirus pandemic.

   In an open letter to governments of the Group of 20 nations, the leaders, 
ministers, top executives and scientists also called for $35 billion to support 
countries with weaker health systems and especially vulnerable populations, and 
at least $150 billion for developing countries to fight the medical and 
economic crisis.

   And they urged the international community to waive this year's debt 
repayments from poorer countries, including $44 billion due from Africa.

   The letter released Monday night urged coordinated action --- "within the 
next few days --- to address our deepening global health and economic crises 
from COVID-19." 

   The communique from the G20 leaders' summit on March 26 recognized the 
gravity and urgency of the crisis, the signatories said, but "we now require 
urgent specific measures that can be agreed on with speed and at scale."

   The letter noted the problems were inter-connected. "The economic emergency 
will not be resolved until the health emergency is effectively addressed: the 
health emergency will not end simply by conquering the disease in one country 
alone, but by ensuring recovery from COVID-19 in all countries." 

   The group called for a global pledging conference, coordinated by a G20 task 
force, to commit resources to meet emergency needs.

   "All health systems --- even the most sophisticated and best funded --- are 
buckling under the pressures of the virus," it said. 

   "Yet if we do nothing as the disease spreads in poorer African, Asian, and 
Latin American cities and in fragile communities which have little testing 
equipment, ventilators, and medical supplies; and where social distancing and 
even washing hands are difficult to achieve," the group warned, "COVID-19 will 
persist there and re-emerge to hit the rest of the world with further rounds 
that will prolong the crisis."

   The 165 signatories included former U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, 92 
former presidents and prime ministers, the current prime ministers of Ethiopia 
and Bangladesh, Sierra Leone's president, philanthropist George Soros, former 
Irish president Mary Robinson, who chairs The Elders, and Graca Machel, the 
group's deputy chair. 

   Others include former British Prime Ministers Tony Blair, Gordon Brown and 
John Major, former U.S. Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers, International 
Economic Association President Kaushik Basu, who was a World Bank chief 
economist, and Georgetown University Associate Professor Deus Bazira, 
co-director of the Center for Global Health Practice and Impact.

   Instead of countries and localities competing for a share of the existing 
capacity, with the risk of spiking prices, the world should be vastly 
increasing capacity by supporting the World Health Organization in coordinating 
the production and procurement of medical supplies and technology to meet fully 
the worldwide demand, it said.

   As for the economy, the group said, "our aim should be to prevent a 
liquidity crisis turning into a solvency crisis, and a global recession 
becoming a global depression." 


(KR)

 
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