Global groups propose pandemic plan at a cost of $10 billion a year By Reuters

© Reuters. A health worker collects a swab sample from a woman during a rapid antigen testing campaign for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), at a railway station in Mumbai, India, January 13, 2022. REUTERS/Francis Mascarenha

By Julie Steenhuysen

CHICAGO (Reuters) – Four organizations focused on global health and the economy say it will take $15 billion in grants this year, and another $10 billion annually after that to establish and maintain an adequate toolkit to respond to COVID-19 and address future pandemic threats.

The estimate is laid out in “A Global Strategy to Manage the Long-term Risks of COVID-19,” a working paper published on Tuesday by the International Monetary Fund, in partnership with the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), the Global Fund, and Wellcome Trust.

In the paper, the four global groups assert that ending the pandemic everywhere remains an urgent economic, health, and moral priority for the world.

“Given the many possible scenarios for the evolution of COVID-19 (from benign to severe) and given the limited resources countries have, we need a new strategy,” Gita Gopinath, the IMF’s First Deputy Managing Director, said in a statement.

The IMF estimated the pandemic resulted in $13.8 trillion in cumulative losses as of January 2022.

Gopinath said countries need vaccines, tests, treatments and an improved health infrastructure to tackle COVID-19 and other deadly diseases.

“These last two years have shown that remarkable progress is possible when the world comes together and supports science boldly at scale, across borders,” said Jeremy Farrar, director at the Wellcome Trust charity. “Now is not the time to ease up – the virus’s next move is anything but certain and the risk of new variants high.”

Richard Hatchett, chief executive of CEPI, said vaccines are a key part of the response.

“They are one of our most potent tools against pandemic risks and will be critical to any future response,” Hatchett said in a statement. But they must be accompanied by investments in global surveillance, research & development, manufacturing and health systems, he said.

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