BEIJING / DUBAI, Nov. 21 – The heads of state and government of the top 20 economies are discussing the global distribution of Covid-19 vaccines, drugs and tests this weekend so that poorer countries are not left out when nations look for ways to go to treat a post-coronavirus recovery.
The heads of state and government are holding a two-day virtual meeting via video conference due to the pandemic chaired by Saudi Arabia, which holds the rotating presidency of the G20 until the end of November.
The Covid-19 pandemic, which will plunge the global economy into deep recession this year before an economic recovery is expected in 2021, is high on the agenda.
“We must work to create the conditions for affordable and equitable access to these instruments for all peoples,” said the Saudi Arabian King Salman bin Abdulaziz in his opening speech.
The G20 heads of state and government fear that the pandemic could further deepen the global divisions between rich and poor.
“We must avoid a scenario of a two-speed world at all costs, in which only the rich can protect themselves from the virus and resume a normal life,” French President Emmanuel Macron said at the summit.
To this end, the European Union called on the G20 heads of state and government to quickly pour more money into a global project for vaccines, tests and therapeutics called the Access to Covid-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator.
“At the G20 summit, I called for $ 4.5 billion to be invested in ACT Accelerator by the end of 2020 to source and deliver COVID-19 tests, treatments and vaccines everywhere,” said the head of European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, on Twitter.
“We have to show global solidarity,” she said.
Russia’s President Vladimir Putin offered to make Russia’s Sputnik-V coronavirus vaccine available to other countries, saying Moscow is also preparing a second and third vaccine.
China, where the pandemic started a year ago, also offered to work together on vaccines. China has five domestic vaccine candidates who are in the final stages of trials.
“China stands ready to intensify its cooperation with other countries on research and development, manufacturing and sales of vaccines,” said Xi at the G20 summit.
“We will … offer help and support to other developing countries and work hard to make vaccines a public good that citizens of all countries can use and afford,” he said.
PREPARING FOR THE FUTURE
To prepare for future outbreaks, the EU will propose a treaty on pandemics. “An international treaty would help us to react more quickly and in a more coordinated manner,” said the chairman of EU leader Charles Michel of the G20.
As the global economy recovers from the depths of the crisis earlier this year, the momentum is slowing in countries with rising infection rates, the recovery is uneven and the pandemic is likely to leave deep scars, the International Monetary Fund said in a report for the G20 summit .
Particularly at risk are poor and highly indebted countries that are “on the brink of financial ruin and are escalating poverty, hunger and immeasurable suffering,” said United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres on Friday.
To remedy this, the G20 will advocate a plan to extend the debt service moratorium for developing countries by six months until mid-2021 with the possibility of further extension, according to a draft G20 message from Reuters.
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World Bank President David Malpass warned the G20 that failure to provide some countries with more permanent debt relief could lead to increased poverty and a recurrence of the disorderly defaults of the 1980s.
The G20 Debt Relief Initiative has helped 44 countries defer approximately $ 5 billion in debt service payments. However, this does not match the 73 eligible countries and promises savings of around $ 12 billion. The extension of temporary debt relief could encourage some more countries to ask for indulgence, experts say, but private-sector creditors must also agree to participate.
Debt relief for Africa will be a major theme of Italy’s G20 presidency in 2021.
President Donald Trump did not attend and was on his Sterling, Virginia golf course when the virtual meeting took place.