Coronavirus: Saudi Arabia’s G20 presidency calls for donations for pandemic response

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The Saudi presidency of the Group of 20 major economies on Thursday called for further immediate donations to fund the emergency response to the coronavirus pandemic and develop needed vaccines.

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The G20 secretariat said $1.9 billion had been donated by countries, philanthropic organizations and the private sector toward an $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 G20 Sherpa Fahad al-Mubarak 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 Organization (WHO), in March urged donors to raise $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 prioritize 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 $400 million in 2019, roughly 15 percent of its budget. But US President Donald Trump this month suspended US contributions, accusing the WHO of being “China-centric.”

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