G20 aims to collect $1.5 bn to prevent, prepare for future pandemics

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The Group of 20 (G20) expects to collect no less than $1.5 billion by the end of this year to build infrastructure to prevent and prepare for potential pandemics in the future, said Budi Gunadi Sadikin, Indonesian Health Minister and the current G20 host.

The commitment to establishing the fund, called the Financial Intermediary Fund (FIF), was agreed upon by the Health Ministers of G20 members, along with the World Bank and the World Health Organisation (WHO), at the first Health Ministerial Meeting (HWG) held on June 20-21 in Indonesia’s Yogyakarta.

Sadikin told a press briefing on Thursday that as of now, several countries and a few charity foundations had pledged to donate a total of $1.1 billion, Xinhua news agency reported.

The fund will be housed by the World Bank, while the WHO will advise the implementation and allocation of the money.

The Indonesian Health Minister elaborated several allocation plans for the fund, including building and improving access to emergency medical countermeasures, establishing a global network of genomic surveillance labs, and building global research and manufacturing hubs.

Sadikin added that the money will be used to produce emergency tools needed for timely and equitable responses to future pandemics, including vaccines, therapeutics, medicines, personal protective equipment, and testing kits, that will be equally distributed to all countries once another pandemic strikes.

The Minister said the G20 members agreed that they needed some connected sequence laboratories to identify and share genome sequence data from pathogens that can cause outbreaks.

“By having such connected labs we can anticipate or overcome an outbreak better. We will be able to get information faster with stronger data sharing mechanisms, then diagnose faster, then we can produce vaccines faster.”

He added that the G20 forum agreed to build several additional global research and manufacturing hubs in Southern countries for pandemic prevention, preparedness and response.

Most of the countries in the Global South are underdeveloped and developing countries, which faced more difficulties in facing the pandemic and obtaining access to vaccines.

Sadikin said that the ideal countries to build the hubs were those with large population.

“So, the Global South countries can develop and supply vaccines to their population in a more timely and equitable way.”

Local media reported that WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus directly attended the HWG, and he estimated that the financial need for strengthening global health security reached $31 billion per year.

“WHO and the World Bank have estimated that we need $31 billion every year to strengthen global health security. Two-thirds of that amount could come from existing resources, but that leaves a gap of $10 billion per year,” he said.

Ghebreyesus suggested that the FIF be supervised by a Council and an Advisory panel that would be supported by the Joint Secretariat of the World Bank and WHO, which is based in Washington.

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