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. While the World Health Organization predicts 200 million more cases by next September – and potentially 5 million more preventable deaths – the sad truth remains that as long as no one is afraid, 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 are making enough vaccines – 11.2 billion doses already, 19.8 billion by June – to immunize 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. Of the tests, only 0.4% were administered in low-income countries, and even basic medical equipment such as oxygen and oral therapy remains a luxury, not to mention ventilators. An estimated 500 million people who are already poor are pushed further into extreme poverty due to the payments they have to pay for health care and the pitifully low full immunization rate of 4% for low-income countries. income and 8% in Africa are a grim gripe. that we seem to place much less importance on human life in the south 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 bolstered by $ 1.1 billion (£ 830 billion) in support that, in Keynes’ words of an emergency previous, “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 need to show that just as Coca-Cola can get to remote places that aren’t on the maps and Pfizer can deliver vaccines by drones, we too need to engage weapons in communities that have never known vaccinations for adults previously.
Thus, the richest economies should immediately subscribe to the urgent demand of 23.4 billion dollars – including 1.5 billion dollars to finance the WHO – from ACT-Accelerator, the coordinating agency for vaccines, diagnostics and therapy. It may seem like a huge sum, but it is more than 200 times smaller than the $ 5.3 billion the IMF estimates to be the loss of Covid-induced economic production by 2026. The $ 23.4 billion breaks down to only 10 pence a week to be paid by every citizen of the richest countries and would not only save next Christmas, but would be the best investment the world could 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 funding to cover this $ 23 billion, an additional $ 25 billion to strengthen the country’s capacity to deliver tests and treatments, and the $ 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 the costs equitably among countries in the same way we fund United Nations peacekeeping operations, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, and over the years. 1960, we 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 vaccine facility and $ 100 billion in new international money – special drawing rights – should be immediately deployed to build health systems in low-income countries. income
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 an international financial mechanism for health that, 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 proceeds 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 haven’t done enough, companies that will benefit from the recovery in 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.