COVID: Joint statement: IMF, WHO, World Bank Group, WTO

COVID: Joint statement: IMF, WHO, World Bank Group, WTO

A new commitment for vaccine equity and defeating the pandemic

Kristalina Georgieva [IMF], Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus [WHO] , David Malpass [World Bank Group] and Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala [WTO]

1 June 2021   [Editor’s text bolding]

As preparations are made for the G7 Summit in the UK next week, top of the agenda is how to end the COVID-19 pandemic and secure the global recovery. Urgent challenges face us.

By now it has become abundantly clear there will be no broad-based recovery without an end to the health crisis. Access to vaccination is key to both. 

There has been impressive progress on the vaccination front. Scientists have come up with multiple vaccines in record time. Unprecedented public and private financing has supported vaccine research, development and manufacturing scale-up. But a dangerous gap between richer and poorer nations persists.

In fact, even as some affluent countries are already discussing the rollout of booster shots to their populations, the vast majority of people in developing countries — even front-line health workers — have still not received their first shot. The worst served are low-income nations which have received less than 1 percent of vaccines administered so far. 

Increasingly, a two-track pandemic is developing, with richer countries having access and poorer ones being left behind.

Inequitable vaccine distribution is not only leaving untold millions of people vulnerable to the virus. It is also allowing deadly variants to emerge and ricochet back across the world. As variants continue to spread, even countries with advanced vaccination programs have been forced to reimpose stricter public health measures, and some have implemented travel restrictions. In turn, the ongoing pandemic is leading to deepening divergence in economic fortunes, with negative consequences for all.  

It need not be this way. That is why we are calling today for a new level of international support for — and implementation of — a stepped up coordinated strategy, backed by new financing, to vaccinate the world.

A recent proposal from IMF staff puts forward a plan with clear targets, pragmatic actions, and at a feasible cost. It builds on and supports the ongoing work of WHO, its partners in the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator initiative and its global vaccine access programme COVAX as well as the work of the World Bank Group, the WTO and many others.

At an estimated $50 billion, it will bring the pandemic to an end faster in the developing world, reduce infections and loss of lives, accelerate the economic recovery, and generate some $9 trillion in additional global output by 2025. It is a win for all — while around 60 percent of the gains will go to emerging markets and developing economies, the remaining 40 percent will benefit the developed world. And this is without taking into account the inestimable benefits on people’s health and lives.