Bold plan saved the global economy in 2009. With this new plan, we can control Covid | Gordon brown


Ttime and time again throughout history the perpetrators of injustice have absolved themselves and justified greed and inaction by blaming the victim. Amid allegations of African guilt for the Omicron outbreak and complaints from the north of the world about vaccine reluctance and low adoption in the south, 2021 has seen this shameful story be told again.

But the new variant is not Africa’s fault. The responsibility begins with the governments of rich countries which have stored hundreds of millions of doses of vaccine and which, even when warned of the failure to immunize the most vulnerable parts of the world, have done too little during the mutation of the virus.

It is not Africa’s mistrust of vaccines that is the decisive problem. It is the lack of access of Africans to them. Of course, anti-vaccines are wreaking havoc everywhere but the most accurate picture I have from my visits to various places in Africa and Asia is of the mother and her family walking for miles, making queuing for hours, even waiting days for the vaccines to arrive. be rescued because she knows from her experience with polio, diphtheria and tuberculosis that her family’s best chance of survival is to have the vaccines in her arms.

Her determination – her faith in the power of medicine to save lives – is a moral call to respond. But the latest outbreak also reminds us of a practical imperative: that if we neglect it, we also let down our own families and communities by allowing the virus to mutate and come back to haunt even fully vaccinated people. With the World Health Organization predict 200 million additional cases by next September – and potentially 5 million preventable deaths – the sad truth remains that until no one lives in fear, then everyone, everywhere, will have to live in fear.

Instead of switching from a Covid crisis to a Covid crisis, we need to resolve that 2022 will be the year when we finally get the virus completely under control. Ours is not a difficult choice between reminders and vaccination of the world. We make enough vaccines – 11.2 billion doses already, 19.8 billion by June – to vaccinate the whole world. But it is an inescapable and unacceptable fact that of the billions of doses of vaccine administered, only 0.6% ended up in low-income countries, while over 70% were administered in high and upper middle income countries. Tests, only 0.4% were administered in low-income countries, even basic medical equipment such as oxygen and oral therapy remains a luxury, let alone ventilators. About 500 million people who are already poor are pushed further into extreme poverty because of the payments they have to pay for health care and Complete vaccination rate of 4% for low income countries and a rate of 8% in Africa is a grim gripe that we seem to value human life in the south much less and much cheaper than in the north. These inequalities are not just a medical failure but a moral failure, a stain on our global soul.

The great global challenge of 2022 must be to erase that stain by finding the money to bridge the yawning gap between the world’s protected rich and unprotected poor – and, in so doing, end the indefensible but eternal underfunding of global health.

I know from my experience of the financial crisis of 2009 when the global economy was supported by $ 1.1 billion (£ 830 billion) of support that in the keynes lyrics about a previous emergency, “whatever we can really do we can afford”.

In the first weeks of 2022, we must achieve for the world what Britain is attempting for our own citizens: deploy every available nurse, enlist every available community health worker, deliver all available tests and treatments, requisition every agency known distribution and summon army support if necessary. We have to show that just as Coca-Cola can go to places far away that are not on the maps and that Pfizer can deliver vaccines by drones so also we must raise the guns across communities that have never experienced adult immunization before.

The richest economies should therefore immediately subscribe to the urgent request of $ 23.4 billion – which includes $ 1.5 billion to fund the WHO – from ACT-Accelerator, the coordinating agency for vaccines, diagnostics and therapeutics. It may seem like a huge sum, but it’s over 200 times smaller than the $ 5.3 billion according to IMF estimates will be the Covid-induced loss of economic production by 2026. The $ 23.4 billion breaks down to just 10 pence a week to be paid by every citizen of the richest countries and not only would save next Christmas, but would be the best investment the world can ever make. Surely the difference between life and death is worth more than the price of the cheapest cookie?

There are four potential sources of long-term sustainable finance to cover this $ 23 billion, a $ 25 billion more strengthen national capacities to administer tests and treatments and $ 10 billion required each year, as recommended by three independent reviews, to prepare for and prevent future pandemics, all of which could be promised at the vaccine conference to be recalled by US President Joe Biden in early 2022.

First, the international community should agree on a formula to share costs equitably among countries in the same way we finance UN peacekeeping, the International Monetary Fund and the world Bank, and in the 1960s imposed levies on countries to eradicate smallpox. We can no longer count on the one-off, piecemeal lottery of global health funding which is more akin to a charity fundraising boost than a serious attempt to move beyond beggar politics. . The purest public good of all – infectious disease control – should be first on the list of a multilateral burden-sharing agreement to fund the WHO and global health, the United States and Europe each providing about 25% of the cost and the rest of the world contributes based on ability to pay.

Second, we must rectify the profound flaw in the global system that Covid has exposed. WHO and those with a global mandate to act have the least resources, while the IMF and multilateral development banks have the most resources, without a specific mandate to act. An additional $ 10 billion in World Bank resources, a new IMF Immunization Center and 100 billion dollars of new international currencyspecial drawing rights – should be immediately deployed to build health systems in low income countries

Third, we need to be more innovative in using guarantees from northern countries to find the funds we need. Only $ 2 billion in guarantees can be mobilized to create a International Financial Facility for Health which, with $ 1.5 billion in grants, could raise $ 10 billion in additional resources for the poorest countries.

Finally, we should consider how we can increase the product of Unitaid’s solidarity tax, which since 2006 has raised $ 1.25 billion by mortgaging air taxes on global health and, with the big pharmaceutical companies now admitting that they have not done enough, businesses that will benefit from the resumption of trade should be invited to join the foundations in our mission to make Covid history.

Hope is resilient, but it is also fragile. Hope dies when countries hoard vaccines that others desperately need, when the richest fail to honor solemn promises made to the poor, and when we put profit before people. But hope can come to life in 2022, making possible what once seemed impossible. It will start with first one rich country, then two, then half a dozen, then all coming together, determined to stop the march of this deadly disease – not only to save lives, but to claim that we are giving the right. same value to all human lives. Through these acts of solidarity, thousands of mothers, like those I have met across Africa, who are waiting today to see if a world that collapsed in 2020 and 2021 will reunite in 2022, will discover with relief that we feel the pain of others well and believe in something greater than ourselves.


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