BEIJING, April 4 (Xinhua) -- With the number of COVID-19 cases across the globe exceeding 1 million, directors of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Health Organization (WHO) on Friday jointly called on policymakers to prioritize saving lives as scientists focus on developing treatment against the disease.
"At face value there is a trade-off to make: either save lives or save livelihoods. This is a false dilemma -- getting the virus under control is, if anything, a prerequisite to saving livelihood," wrote IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva and WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus in an op-ed published on British newspaper the Telegraph.
"The course of the global health crisis and the fate of the global economy are inseparately intertwined. Fighting the pandemic is a necessity for the economy to rebound," they wrote.
"Our joint appeal is that in one of the humanity's darkest hours, leaders must step up right now for people living in emerging markets," said the WHO and the IMF chiefs.
"As we all work together, with little time and finite resources, it is essential that we focus on the right priorities to save lives and livelihoods," they emphasized.
The time has come for countries to harmonize efforts to weather the storm. Nearly 100 U.S. experts, former senior officials and diplomats called for U.S.-China cooperation to fight COVID-19.
"No effort against the coronavirus -- whether to save American lives at home or combat the disease abroad -- will be successful without some degree of cooperation between the United States and China," said a statement issued by Asia Society's Center and University of California San Diego's School of Global Policy and Strategy.
"China's factories can make the protective gear and medicines needed to fight the virus; its medical personnel can share their valuable clinical experience in treating it; and its scientists can work with ours to develop the vaccine urgently needed to vanquish it," said the statement supported by 93 signatories, including former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and former Prime Minister of Australia Kevin Rudd.
"Global challenges require global solutions, which must involve coordination between the world's two largest economies ... other nations will be hesitant to act unless they are convinced the United States and China are on the same page," said Susan Shirk, one of the signatories and chair of the 21st Century China Center at UC San Diego.
When the World Bank on Monday released a report warning of the economic shock caused by the pandemic to East Asia and the Pacific, it said that all countries in the region and beyond "must recognize that, in addition to bold national actions, deeper international cooperation is the most effective vaccine against this virulent threat."
VACCINE, TREATMENT POSSIBILITIES
When countries have adopted stringent measures such as lockdowns to combat COVID-19, scientists around the world have ignored borders, racing to develop a vaccine and better treatment.
U.S. biotech company Moderna and China's CanSino Biologics are the first to launch clinical trials of vaccines against COVID-19. As of Friday, the WHO tally for other vaccine candidates that could follow has reached 52.
"This is a wonderful response from the biomedical community to an epidemic," Science Magazine quoted Lawrence Corey, a virologist with the Fred Cancer Research center, as saying. "It's both gratifying and problematic in the sense of how do you winnow all this down."
Besides, providing a vaccine as quickly as possible is also a challenge.
Director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease Anthony Fauci has explicitly predicted a vaccine "is going to take a year, a year and a half, at least," with side effects, dosing issues and manufacturing problems possibly causing delays, according to the magazine.
As the Group of 20 health ministers' meeting is approaching, Li Mingzhu, official with China's National Health Commission, said his country will support enhancing information sharing and cooperation on developing medicines and a vaccine within the group.
"Chinese scientists have in many ways led the world's coronavirus research. A Chinese laboratory made public the initial viral genome in January, a disclosure that formed the basis for coronavirus tests worldwide. And some of today's most promising clinical trials can trace their origins to early Chinese research on the disease," said the New York Times on Wednesday.