Saudi G-20 presidency urges more donations to fund coronavirus pandemic response

WASHINGTON (REUTERS) – The Saudi presidency of the Group of 20 major economies on Thursday (April 23) called for further immediate donations to fund the emergency response to the coronavirus pandemic and develop needed vaccines.

The G-20 secretariat said US$1.9 billion (S$2.7 billion) had been donated by countries, philanthropic organisations and the private sector towards an US$8 billion target set by the Global Preparedness Monitoring Board, but more funds were needed.

“Global challenges demand global solutions and this is our time to stand and support the race for a vaccine and other therapeutic measures to combat Covid-19,” Saudi G-20 Sherpa Fahad Almubarak said in a statement.

Additional funds were needed to pay for emergency response, diagnostics, treatment, and the development, manufacturing, and deployment of necessary vaccines, the statement said.

The Global Preparedness Monitoring Board, co-convened by the World Bank and the World Health Organisation (WHO), in March urged donors to raise US$8 billion to augment funds already being committed by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.

It said it was critical to fully fund the WHO to coordinate and prioritise support efforts to the most vulnerable countries, develop new diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines, strengthen surveillance and ensure sufficient supplies of protective equipment for health workers.

The United States has long been the biggest overall donor to the WHO, contributing over US$400 million in 2019, roughly 15 per cent of its budget. But US President Donald Trump this month suspended US contributions, accusing the WHO of being “China-centric”.

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