G20 leaders vow to ensure affordable, equitable access to COVID-19 diagnostics, vaccines

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New Delhi/Riyadh: Leaders of the G20, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, asserted Sunday that they will spare no effort to ensure affordable and equitable access to COVID-19 diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines for all. The leaders also pledged to use all possible policy tools to protect people’s lives, jobs and incomes in the wake of the pandemic.

The final declaration was released after the two-day G20 Leaders Summit, attended among others by Prime Minister Modi, outgoing US President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping.

In the G20 Riyadh Summit Leaders Declaration issued at the conclusion of the conference of the world’s top 20 economies, the leaders said that while the global economy experienced a sharp contraction in 2020 due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, global economic activity has partially picked up as ‘our economies gradually reopened and the positive impact of our significant policy actions started to materialise’.

However, they noted that the recovery is ‘uneven, highly uncertain and subject to elevated downside risks’, including those arising from renewed virus outbreaks in some countries.

The G20 leaders also expressed support for the Anti-Money Laundering (AML)/Counter-Terrorist Financing (CFT) policy responses detailed in the FATF’s paper on COVID-19, and reaffirmed their support for the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) as the global standard-setting body for preventing and combating money laundering, terrorist financing and proliferation financing.

“We reiterate our strong commitment to tackle all sources, techniques and channels of these threats. We reaffirm our commitment to strengthening the FATF’s Global Network of regional bodies, including by supporting their expertise in mutual evaluations, and call for the full, effective and swift implementation of the FATF standards worldwide,” the leaders said in the declaration.

The G20 leaders also said that the COVID-19 pandemic and its unprecedented impact in terms of lives lost, livelihoods and economies affected, is an ‘unparalleled shock’ that has revealed vulnerabilities in preparedness and response, and underscored common challenges.

“We remain determined to support all developing and least developed countries as they face the intertwined health, economic, and social effects of COVID-19, recognising the specific challenges in Africa and small developing states,” the leaders said after deliberating on a host of issues related to the pandemic over the last two days.

The G20 has mobilised resources to address the immediate financing needs in global health to support the research, development, manufacturing, and distribution of safe and effective COVID-19 diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines, the declaration said. “We will spare no effort to ensure their affordable and equitable access for all people, consistent with members’ commitments to incentivise innovation,” it said.

The leaders also said they are taking immediate and exceptional measures to address the COVID-19 pandemic and its intertwined health, social and economic impacts.