IMF proposes $50bn to fight COVID-19 pandemic

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Washington: The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has proposed $50 billion to speed up vaccinations, boost testing and tracing, and maintain adequate stocks of therapeutics, urging coordinated global action to end the COVID-19 pandemic.

Despite stepped-up global efforts, more than a year into the global crisis, “new cases worldwide are higher than ever”, IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva, chief economist Gita Gopinath and economist Ruchir Agarwal, wrote in a joint blog published on Friday.

“Urgent action is needed to arrest the rising human toll and economic strain,” they said.

“Ending the pandemic is a solvable problem but requires further coordinated global action.”

Noting that economic recoveries are diverging dangerously, Georgieva and her colleagues said that as of the end of April 2021, less than 2 per cent of Africa’s population had been vaccinated.

By contrast, over 40 per cent of the population in the US and over 20 per cent in Europe had received at least one dose of the vaccine.

The $50 billion proposal aims to vaccinate at least 40 per cent of the population in all countries by the end of 2021 and at least 60 per cent by the first half of 2022, according to the blog.

It also aims to track and insure against downside risks, ensure widespread testing and tracing, maintain adequate stocks of therapeutics, and enforce public health measures in places where vaccine coverage is low.

Georgieva and her colleagues noted that the G20 governments have already indicated their willingness to address the $22 billion grant funding gap noted by the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator, a global collaboration platform launched by the World Health Organization and its partners.

They argued that an estimated $13 billion dollars in additional grant contributions is needed, and the remainder of the overall financing plan, around $15 billion, could come from national governments, potentially supported by COVID-19 financing facilities created by multilateral development banks.

Georgieva and her colleagues reiterated that a faster end to the pandemic could inject the equivalent of $9 trillion into the global economy by 2025, due to a faster resumption of economic activity.

They added that advanced economies, likely to spend the most on this effort, would see the highest return on public investment in modern history.