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G20 ministers launch pandemic fund, seek more support

G20 health and finance ministers have launched a $1.4 billion fund to tackle the next global pandemic ahead of the bloc’s leaders gathering for a summit on the Indonesian resort island of Bali, but the host’s president said it was not enough.

The 24-nation fund was launched at a news conference on Sunday opened by Indonesian President Joko Widodo and addressed by World Health Organization (WHO) chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus and World Bank President David Malpass.

“The G20 agrees to build a pandemic fund to prevent and prepare for a pandemic. Donors from G20 and non-G20 members, as well as philanthropic organisations, have contributed to the funds. But it is not enough,” Widodo said in a video address.

The fund so far includes contributions from Indonesia, the United States, the European Union, Britain, India, China, France, Canada, Australia and Japan as well as from donors and philanthropic organisations like the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

The fund is targeted at low to middle-income countries to finance efforts like surveillance, research and better access to vaccines, among others measures.

It was created amid anger among many developing countries over their experience during the Covid-19 pandemic, when richer countries often hoarded the bulk of resources such as vaccines to fight the virus.

The World Bank, which will serve as the fund’s trustee, and the WHO, which is advising on the facility, estimated in a report that the annual funding gap for pandemic preparedness is $10.5 billion.

READ MORE: Global Covid-19 deaths drop by 90%: WHO

‘Help make the world safer’

Indonesia was at one point an epicentre of the Covid-19 pandemic when a wave of Delta strain cases hit the country in mid-2021.

Its health system was overwhelmed by the number of infections and Jakarta produced its own homegrown vaccine.

“We meet at a time of multiple crises… this new dedicated fund is an important tool that will support low and middle income countries to be better prepared for global health crises,” said Malpass, who urged more countries to commit to the fund.

“The pandemic fund can help make the world safer.”

Indonesian Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati told a news conference on Saturday that Saudi Arabia was expected to contribute to the fund, without specifying how much.

Covid-19 jab coverage in poorer countries hits 50 percent on average

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