Geneva, June 5 (Xinhua): Indicating a silver lining of the coronavirus crisis, Klaus Schwab, founder and executive chairman of the World Economic Forum, said that “the coronavirus crisis will exercise pressures on companies to digitalize more, to robotize more, to use the internet of things even more.”
“People will pay more attention to health, while digital learning and lifelong learning are booming in the educational field,” Schwab added.
In Schwab’s view, the challenges posed by the “global virus” require the engagement of politicians, business community and particularly the young generation.
“All those risks can only be reduced if we strengthen global cooperation,” he said.
“The world order in the post pandemic era has to be shaped by all countries. We need not only a multilateral approach, we need a multi-stakeholder approach — what the Forum stands for,” he said.
The COVID-19 crisis has posed economic challenges and structural changes, all requiring multilateral and multi-stakeholder solutions.”This was not just a cyclical crisis; it was a systemic crisis,” said Schwab in a recent interview with Xinhua.
The lasting impacts of the pandemic on global economy, he said, involve short term consequences like job losses, and structural influence as well as series of new risks.
Schwab noted that main industrialized countries have adopted positive fiscal measures to assuage pressures of liquidities, while the currency devaluation has been seen in some developing countries in South America and Africa.
“We have to make all efforts to ensure that the gap of the advanced economies and the emerging economies is not becoming bigger as a consequence of the crisis,” he said.
Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) have been hit hardest by the pandemic, due to their high dependence on supply chains and less liquidities, compared with large companies, noted Schwab, adding that SMEs require “special care” during the economic recovery.
Some countries have worked to avoid short-term financial risks, which resulted in a higher debt burden that the next generation has to carry, he added, noting that those countries should speed up economic recovery and reduce the debt burden as fast as possible, Schwab said.
Global Vaccine Summit
A virtual global vaccine summit was held in London Thursday with participating world leaders calling for international efforts to ensure the availability of COVID-19 vaccines to anyone in need anywhere in the world, Xinhua reported.
The summit, which gathered leaders from more than 30 countries and global organizations, including the United Nations (UN) and the World Health Organization (WHO), is a much-needed event to promote world unity in dealing with the challenge of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Aimed at raising funds for the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation (GAVI), the summit demonstrated the leaders’ sincere hope that the vaccine should be available as a global public good, rather than a commodity for the purpose of profit.
“A COVID-19 vaccine must be seen as a global public good, a people’s vaccine, which a growing number of world leaders are calling for,” UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said while addressing the summit.
Although no vaccine has yet completed clinical trials in the world today, the world community is racing against the clock to develop one against the coronavirus, with progress achieved in some developed countries and China.
Catching the world off guard, COVID-19 has hit more than 210 countries and regions, with updated global infections surpassing 6.5 million and accumulative deaths over 380,000. The pandemic has constituted the most serious global public health emergency since the end of World War II.
It is a global dream to see an effective vaccine at an early date, but a vaccine itself is not enough. Joint international efforts must be made to make sure its accessibility for everyone everywhere in need.
A country’s public health is assured only when its most vulnerable citizens are taken good care of. Similarly, the globe at large will be safe from a raging pandemic only when the poorest countries are well-equipped against risks of infection.
Chinese PM Says No County Can Control Pandemic Singly
In his speech at the virtual summit, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said that no country is immune from the virus.
Speaking at the summit attended by leaders from over 30 countries and heads of international organizations, including the United Nations (UN) and the World Health Organization (WHO), Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said that China will continue to support the core role of the WHO in coordinating vaccine research, while making its contribution to ensuring vaccine accessibility and affordability in developing countries.
In dealing with the COVID-19 infection, China has put people’s lives first, effectively containing the epidemic by making arduous efforts, Li said.
However, the pandemic is not over, said Li, adding that no country is immune from the virus, and that the health and safety of the various populations are closely connected.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said that “diseases know no borders. That is why a fully-funded GAVI will be critical to ensure we continue the progress toward the Sustainable Development Goals.”
“COVID-19 is the greatest public health crisis of our generation. Right now, there is no vaccine. As we work together to develop one, there is an important lesson we need to understand. A vaccine, by itself, is not enough. We need global solidarity to ensure that every person, everywhere, has access,” said Guterres.
“A vaccine will be essential for controlling COVID-19. But vaccines only realize their true power when they are deployed to protect the poorest and the most vulnerable,” said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
At present, many people are concerned that developed countries leading in the research and development of the vaccine will endeavor to maximize profits on their advantages with no regard for poorer countries. But in the global fight against COVID-19, virus knows no border and vaccines cannot be controlled by a few countries.
Efforts should be made to ensure that COVID-19 vaccines reach everyone in need when they become available. Therefore, any individual in any country, rich or poor, can get access, and no one would be deprived of the chance.
The summit, to raise funds for the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation (GAVI) to ensure vaccine accessibility worldwide, drew pledges of 8.8 billion U.S. dollars from governments and organizations, far more than its target of 7.4 billion dollars.
The funds will not only protect children from deadly diseases like polio, diphtheria and measles and save up to 8 million lives, but also be directed to accelerating research, development, production and distribution of a vaccine for COVID-19.
Meanwhile, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who opened the summit, urged countries and organizations to “join us to fortify this lifesaving alliance and inaugurate a new era of global health cooperation, which I believe is now the most essential shared endeavour of our lifetimes.”
Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission, said the European Union has been at the GAVI’s side since the very beginning in 2000, and the GAVI “has brought life-saving vaccines to millions of families that could not afford them.”
Modi Says Help Others To Help Ourselves
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said “GAVI is not just a global alliance, it is also a symbol of global solidarity and a reminder that by helping others, we can also help ourselves … India values the work of GAVI.”
“We’re meeting at a unique time in history. Never have more people been more aware of the importance of vaccines. As we race to develop the COVID-19 vaccine, we must also renew our commitment to delivering every life-saving vaccine there is to every child on Earth,” said Bill Gates, co-chair of Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
Also on Thursday, the GAVI launched the GAVI Advance Market Commitment for COVID-19 Vaccines (GAVI Covax AMC), a new financing instrument aimed at incentivizing vaccine manufacturers to produce sufficient quantities of eventual COVID-19 vaccines, and to ensure access for developing countries.
“Today’s launch moves us one step closer to the essential vision of equitable access for all,” said Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, chair of the GAVI Board.
“By de-risking the cost of investing in high volumes of manufacturing against an unknown outcome — and making sure those investments are made now — the GAVI Covax AMC increases the likelihood that when we have a successful vaccine or vaccines, it will be available in sufficient quantities and affordable to developing countries,” she said.
Israel For Global Cooperation
A Xinhua report from Jerusalem says: International collaboration is vital to quickly producing a COVID-19 vaccine to save lives worldwide, say Israeli medical experts.
Since the outbreak of the novel coronavirus, multiple groups of researchers around the world have been working hard to find the cure or treatment as early as possible.
Dina Ben-Yehuda, dean of the medicine school at Hebrew University of Jerusalem, said one country could hardly achieve success single-handedly in the vaccine development.
“We need international collaboration to save the world. And I hope that nobody will forget it,” she stressed.
Ben-Yehuda praised China for transparency in sharing its research findings regarding the coronavirus that caused the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The fact that Chinese physicians and scientists felt a responsibility to publish everything, even the bad results, helped many people around the world and saved lives,” said Ben-Yehuda.
China shared the initial information about the virus DNA with all other countries so that every one of them could work on vaccines and treatments. This kind of collaboration should continue for the benefit of all humankind, according to the professor.
Oren Zimhony MD, head of the infectious diseases unit at Kaplan Medical Center, said the international collaboration now on creating a vaccine is stronger than ever.
There are approximately eight main directions taken to work out a vaccine for COVID-19. Such a variety of possibilities increased the odds of finding the right way to the desired result, according to Zimhony.
“The major game-changer to overcome this pandemic is vaccine development,” Zimhony said, who believes that the first clinical implications of the intense vaccine research will be available in six months.
Gili Regev-Yochay, director of the infection prevention control unit at Sheba Medical Center, believes that only a vaccine could stop the global outbreak of the novel coronavirus.
“It seems there is no proper treatment for COVID-19 disease patients, and the only effective global cure would be a vaccine,” she noted.
The biggest challenge in the work, according to Regev-Yochay, is to find a completely safe vaccine for everybody and a reliable way to deliver it to all kinds of people with different health situations.
“We need to be very cautious with vaccines. It’s much more complicated than clinical trials with the drugs,” stressed Regev-Yochay.
Many COVID-19 patients don’t have symptoms or have mild ones, “so we need to make sure we don’t inject them with vaccines, drugs, or chemicals that could do more harm than good,” she said.
International sharing of information could help researchers compare the effectiveness of different vaccines and speed up the progress of the development.
According to the statistics of the World Health Organization, currently more than 130 COVID-19 candidate vaccines are being developed worldwide, with about 10 of them being already in clinical evaluation.
Among the vaccine challenges is also its mass production for the use of all of humanity, which calls for global cooperation.
“We need to vaccinate billions of people around the globe. Better to do it before the upcoming winter to prevent the dangerous effect of dual infection of influenza and COVID-19,” said Zimhony.
Ben-Yehuda said she believes new technologies of computational medicine and international sharing of big data could help create personalized medicine for COVID-19 infection, as the virus affects people differently.
(The picture at the top shows an on line learner in China.Photo: Xinhua)