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G-20 pledges US$5 trillion to fight virus

Leaders of G-20 major economies promised to spend more than US$5 trillion to prop up the global economy and hasten recovery from the pandemic.

WASHINGTON (AN) — Leaders of the G-20 major economies met by video conference and promised to spend more than US$5 trillion on Thursday in an effort to prop up the global economy and hasten people's recovery from the worldwide coronavirus pandemic.

The Group of 20 leaders' extraordinary virtual summit was hosted by Saudi Arabia and attended by more than a dozen heads of state. It concluded by saying the governments and central banks from 19 nations and the European Union would boost financial backing for a coronavirus vaccine, push to resume global trade and services quickly and help poorer countries cope with inadequate or straining health systems.

"Combatting this pandemic calls for a transparent, robust, coordinated, large-scale and science-based global response in the spirit of solidarity," the leaders said in a statement.

"The G-20 is committed to do whatever it takes to overcome the pandemic," it said, "along with the World Health Organization, International Monetary Fund, World Bank Group, United Nations and other international organizations, working within their existing mandates."

G-20 leaders also committed to provide immediate resources to WHO’s COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, or CEPI, and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance.

"We call upon all countries, international organizations, the private sector, philanthropies, and individuals to contribute to these efforts," they said after a video conference call lasting about an hour and a half.

The group said it is protecting workers and businesses — particularly small to medium-sized enterprises — and shielding the most vulnerable people through social protections.

"We are injecting over US$5 trillion into the global economy, as part of targeted fiscal policy, economic measures, and guarantee schemes to counteract the social, economic and financial impacts of the pandemic," it said.

'Global response' needed

King Salman of Saudi Arabia told leaders the COVID-19 pandemic, which is costing many lives and causing tremendous suffering around the world, requires an effective and coordinated response to save lives and restore confidence in the global economy.

Among the other attendees were Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, French President Emmanuel Macron, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Russian President Vladimir Putin and U.S. President Donald Trump.

"This human crisis requires a global response. The world counts on us to come together and cooperate in order to face this challenge," the Saudi king said in a statement. "We must also strengthen the global preparedness to counter infectious diseases that may spread in the future."

He said the spread of COVID-19 is hampering growth and development and reversing financial gains of recent years, making it necessary for the G-2o to put forward an "effective and coordinated response to this pandemic" that restores confidence in the global economy.