- G20 nations pledge "united front" in fight against coronavirus
- G20 to inject $5 trillion into global economy to counter impact of crisis
- PM Modi said WHO based on last-century model, needs reform
The G20 group of nations on Thursday pledged a "united front" in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic, and said they were injecting $5 trillion into the global economy to counter the impact of the crisis. In the first ever video conference of G20 of leaders held today, Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke of the alarming social and economic costs of the pandemic and called for a concrete action plan including reforming the World Health Organisation (WHO), sources said.
"Combatting this pandemic calls for a transparent, robust, coordinated, large-scale and science-based global response in the spirit of solidarity," the G20 said in a statement after the emergency online summit chaired by Saudi Arabia's King Salman and attended by US President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin among others.
The group of 20 most industrialised nations said they were injecting over $5 trillion into the global economy "to counteract the social, economic and financial impacts of the pandemic". The countries also agreed to work together to find a vaccine for coronavirus.
According to sources, PM Modi asked for the G20 to freely and openly share medical research and said that international organisations like WHO, built on models of the previous century, need to be strengthened and reformed.
WHO initially did not have the mandate to deal with a pandemic of this sort, which is why empowering of WHO is necessary, be it in terms of its capacity of early warning or development of effective vaccines, he said.
As concerns mount for poorer countries without access to capital markets or adequate health facilities, G20 leaders also pledged to work with bodies such as the International Monetary Fund to deploy a "robust" financial package to support developing nations.
Sources say the G20 leaders said the ongoing restrictions across many countries have a finite timeline, though they can't say exactly till when.
There was no discussion on the origins of the virus and ascribing blame to China. Officials say the emphasis was on cooperation between countries.
On the fight against the novel coronavirus, the leaders committed to a number of measures including sharing research and data, strengthening health systems, and expanding manufacturing capacity to meet demand for medical supplies.
"To safeguard the future, we commit to strengthen national, regional, and global capacities to respond to potential infectious disease outbreaks," the statement said.
The talks come amid criticism that the G20 has been slow to address the COVID-19 pandemic, which has left more than 21,000 dead worldwide according to official data, and triggered financial shock waves as more than three billion people are locked down.
On Wednesday, the financial ratings agency Moody's estimated the G20's overall gross domestic product would contract by 0.5 per cent this year, with the US economy shrinking by 2.0 per cent and the eurozone by 2.2 per cent.
(With inputs from AFP)