The Jakarta Post
President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo has called for G20 leaders to spearhead the development of vaccines to win "the war" against the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic during the group's first video-conference summit on Thursday evening.
Jokowi joined the virtual teleconference hosted remotely by G20 chairman and Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud to discuss international efforts and stronger cooperation to fight the spread of COVID-19.
“The G20 must actively lead efforts to find a COVID-19 antivirus and vaccine together with the World Health Organization,” the Indonesian President said as quoted in a press statement released by the Presidential Secretariat.
Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati, who had accompanied Jokowi in the meeting, said all G20 member countries, the WHO and the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI) would collaborate in efforts to accelerate COVID-19 vaccine development.
“The finance ministers of the G20 have indicated they would allocate US$4 billion to be mobilized throughout the world, especially in the G20 countries, to accelerate research and find a COVID-19 vaccine. This issue is currently under discussions at the level of the G20's finance ministers,” Sri Mulyani said after the teleconference.
In a joint statement adopted at the summit, G20 leaders agreed to further commit to work together to increase research and development funding for vaccines and medicines, leverage digital technologies and strengthen international scientific cooperation.
“We will bolster our coordination, including with the private sector, toward rapid development, manufacturing and distribution of diagnostics, antiviral medicines and vaccines,” the statement said.
On the occasion, Jokowi also encouraged G20 member countries to work together to synchronize economic policies and instruments to counter the economic downturn resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.
The President stressed at the end of his statement that G20 countries had a role to foster world confidence to get through the health crisis.
Indonesia was among the latest to step up its battle against the coronavirus as the archipelago had just announced its first confirmed COVID-19 cases on March 2, weeks after many other countries around the world announced their first positive cases on their soil.
With 1,046 confirmed cases and 87 fatalities as of Friday, Indonesia's death toll is now the highest in Southeast Asia and its mortality rate of 8.3 percent is among the highest in the world.
The global death toll from the coronavirus, which first emerged in China late last year, has now passed 24,000, with the number of infections globally closing in on half a million. An estimated 3 million people have been forced into lockdown.