The world is at war, World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told the G20 Leaders Summit this week, and every country needs to unite to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.
“You have come together to confront the defining health crisis of our time: We are at war with a virus that threatens to tear us apart – if we let it,” Tedros said. “This is a global crisis that requires a global response. Fight, unite, ignite.”
Exhorting world leaders to do whatever it takes to overcome the pandemic, save lives and secure stability, Tedros called for a fight without excuses, fought with united purpose, and perhaps, most importantly, one that would be sustained past the current crisis. He pressed for more than action, he pressed for a health movement the likes of which the world has never seen, to guarantee a disaster like this could never happen again.
To date, the disease has infected more than 550,000 people worldwide, according to Johns Hopkins University. While the epidemic began in China, the United States this week became its new epicenter, and now hosts more than 86,000 cases. Nearly 25,000 people have been killed as a result of the disease around the globe.
The G20 committed to support and strengthen WHO’s mandate for response coordination and called for full funding for the organization’s Strategic Preparedness and Response Plan. Members also pledged cooperation on research and development funding for vaccines and medicines alike, to strengthen scientific collaboration and to utilize digital technologies. As part of this cooperation, they asked that WHO and associated organizations seek out gaps in pandemic preparedness and report those findings to G20 Finance and Health Ministers, who they hope will create a unified, global initiative of preparedness and response.