Find $ 75 billion to avoid next pandemic, top panel tells G20 | World news

VENICE (Reuters) – COVID-19 is likely just a precursor of increasingly dangerous pandemics in the future and governments need to find $ 75 billion over the next 5 years to prepare for it, said a panel of experts to finance ministers of the Group of 20 rich countries on Friday.

In a report to the G20 meeting in Venice, the panel said the $ 15 billion a year in recommended investments doubled current spending levels but was “negligible” compared to the costs of another major disease outbreak. a new contagious disease.

“The economic case for these additional investments is overwhelming,” said former US Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers, who co-chaired the 23-member panel with World Trade Organization chief Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and the former Singapore Finance Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam.

Summers told Reuters in an interview he was “cautiously optimistic” that his recommendations would be implemented and said “we will not hesitate to speak out” if they do not.

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“Spending tens of billions of dollars could save tens of trillions,” he said.

To address the “major gaps” in pandemic preparedness, the panel identified four main areas of action: infectious disease surveillance, resilience of national health systems, procurement and delivery of vaccines and other drugs, and global governance.

The report, titled “Global Accord for a Pandemic Era,” called for the creation of an annual $ 10 billion Health Threats Fund, plus $ 5 billion to strengthen the World Health Organization. and create dedicated pandemic facilities at the World Bank and multilateral development banks.

In addition, low- and middle-income countries are expected to add about 1% of their gross domestic product to public health spending over the next five years, he said.

“Security against pandemics will require a fundamental shift in thinking about international cooperation,” Shanmugaratnam said. “This is the ultimate case for the national interest and international solidarity at the same time.”

The panel was set up in January and includes figures such as former European Central Bank president Jean-Claude Trichet, Ana Botin, executive chair of the Santander group, and Guntram Wolff, head of the Bruegel think tank.

The G20, chaired this year by Italy, will consider its recommendations ahead of a joint meeting of finance and health ministers in October.

Okonjo-Iweala told Reuters that finance ministers had been “generally very positive” about the report and that she was confident it would be prosecuted.

(Edited by Giles Elgood)

Copyright 2021 Thomson Reuters.

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