Ex-UK PMs join global call for $2.5tn pandemic relief package

John Major, Tony Blair and Gordon Brown are among those calling for an urgent G20 summit. (Getty Images)
Short Url
Updated 02 June 2020

Ex-UK PMs join global call for $2.5tn pandemic relief package

  • Former presidents, prime ministers and leaders of international institutions have come together to call for an emergency G20 Summit
  • The former leaders also highlighted the danger that a second wave of coronavirus outbreaks in the developing world could re-infect richer nations

LONDON: Three former British prime ministers have signed a joint plea from 225 world leaders for a $2.5 trillion package of support for developing countries threatened with disaster due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Former presidents, prime ministers and leaders of international institutions have come together to call for an emergency G20 Summit to agree a global health and economic recovery plan that would “send out a message of hope for the future.”

The letter — whose signatories include former UK prime ministers Tony Blair, Gordon Brown and John Major, former UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Hungarian philanthropist George Soros — warns that the world faces a deep recession that threatens hundreds of millions of the world’s poorest people with unemployment, destitution and starvation.

“Without action from the G20, the recession caused by the pandemic will only deepen, hurting all economies and the world’s most marginalised and poorest peoples and nations the most,” the former leaders said.

“Representing, as it does, 85 percent of the world’s nominal GDP (gross domestic product), the G20 has the capacity to lead the mobilisation of resources on the scale required. We urge leaders to do so immediately.”

The former leaders also highlighted the danger that a second wave of coronavirus outbreaks in the developing world could re-infect richer nations that may have already controlled their own outbreaks.

The G20, made up of the world’s largest economies and currently chaired by Saudi Arabia, is seen as the most promising avenue through which to coordinate a global response.

“The world is at a critical moment,” Brown said. “Without a G20 leaders’ meeting online soon and certainly long before the end of November, a vacuum in global leadership will open up just at the time when we need global action most — to avoid a second wave of Covid coming out of the poorest countries and to move the world economy from rescue operations to planning a global recovery.”

The pandemic has already had a devastating effect on living standards and the global economy.

The UN has warned of a worldwide recession that could plunge over 420 million more people into extreme poverty.

The World Food Programme announced that 265 million people are likely to suffer from crisis levels of hunger — an increase of 130 million over pre-pandemic levels.


Duterte to skip Philippine trial of Russia virus vaccine

Updated 13 August 2020

Duterte to skip Philippine trial of Russia virus vaccine

  • Duterte had offered himself up as a guinea pig for the very first jab, expressing “huge trust” in the vaccine
  • The Philippines has logged the highest number of confirmed infections in Southeast Asia

MANILA: The Philippines will begin large-scale human testing of Russia’s coronavirus vaccine in October, but President Rodrigo Duterte will not receive the inoculation until regulators guarantee its safety, his spokesman said Thursday.
Duterte had offered himself up as a guinea pig for the very first jab, expressing “huge trust” in the vaccine, despite growing skepticism about its effectiveness.
But his spokesman Harry Roque said the president was scheduled to receive the vaccine no earlier than May 1 — weeks after the Russian-funded Phase 3 clinical trial in the archipelago is due to end in March.
The country’s Food and Drug Administration is expected to approve the vaccine — developed by the Gamaleya research institute and the Russian defense ministry — in April.
“May 1 is when the PSG (presidential security group) may allow him, once all requisite tests have been finished,” Roque told reporters.
Moscow says it has developed the world’s first vaccine offering “sustainable immunity” against the coronavirus and is in the final stage of tests involving 2,000 people.
Roque said Philippine experts will review next month the results of Russia’s Phase 1 and 2 clinical trials before the Southeast Asian country starts its Phase 3 testing.
“We will do it simultaneously with Russia,” Roque said.
Philippine officials from the science and technology department met with Gamaleya on Wednesday to discuss the protocols for the trial of the vaccine, which is dubbed “Sputnik V” after the pioneering Soviet satellite of the 1950s.
The Philippines, which is struggling to contain the virus, has accepted Russia’s offer to participate in production of the vaccine.
Anna Lisa Ong-Lim, an infectious disease professor at the University of the Philippines College of Medicine, said the government’s timeline to have a vaccine available by May was “very optimistic.”
The country is also set to start on August 17 clinical trials for the Japanese antiviral drug Avigan to treat coronavirus patients.
The Philippines has logged the highest number of confirmed infections in Southeast Asia with more than 147,500 cases and over 2,400 deaths.