The G20, the coalition representing many of the world’s largest economies, announced Friday the formation of a new panel to improve the global response to future pandemics, though participating nations did not specify any funding for the task force.
The G20 Joint Finance-Health Task Force was launched in hopes of bridging gaps between nations, health and financial bodies and other entities to be better prepared for the next pandemic, according to a statement from G20, which will host a summit in Rome over the weekend.
The task force was created after the coronavirus pandemic “exposed significant shortcomings” in the world’s ability to coordinate an international response to a global pandemic, the group said.
For now, the task force will be made up of health and finance officials from the G20 member nations but could include individuals from non-G20 entities in the future.
The panel will be tasked with looking into how public and private funding is allocated for pandemic preparedness, along with identifying any financing gaps and how to best distribute future resources.
G20 requested that the task force meet before the end of the year to lay out an initial roadmap for the panel, and to appoint a secretariat from the World Health Association to assist task force members.
However, the 20 countries have not allocated funding for the new task force, despite a proposal for a new financing facility from the United States and Indonesia.
Earlier this week, U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and Sri Mulyani Indrawati, Indonesia’s finance minister, sent a letter asking G20 to commit to supporting development banks to ensure they have the financial capacity to fund vaccination and treatment as pandemic threats emerge.
The new task force has angered some critics who say the panel has no teeth. Georgetown Law global health professor Lawrence Gostin told the Washington Post G20 has an “extraordinarily bad track record” when it comes to following through with funding health initiatives, and that the lack of political figures on the board could see the task force struggle to influence leaders.
G20 also said the group would “take steps” to boost the supply of coronavirus vaccine doses in poorer countries. The world’s wealthiest countries came under fire last week after a report by the People’s Vaccine Alliance found only 14% of the 1.8 billion doses promised to poor nations by G7 members and Europe have actually been donated so far. More than 244 million people worldwide have been infected with coronavirus and nearly 5 million have died, according to a WHO tally. This week, the WHO announced record coronavirus infections and deaths in Eastern European countries with high poverty and low vaccination rates, while less than 10% of African countries are on-track to reach the WHO’s vaccination goal of nations fully inoculating 40% of their residents by 2021.The G20 is an international forum made up of 19 of the world’s top economies, plus a representative from the European Union. The countries represented in the group make up around 90% of the world’s gross domestic product and 80% of global trade.