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Remarks at the G20 Extraordinary Leaders' Summit on COVID-19

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director general, World Health Organization
By videoconference, March 26, 2020

My brothers and sisters,

We come together to confront the defining health crisis of our time.

We are at war with a virus that threatens to tear us apart – if we let it.

Almost half a million people have already been infected, and more than 20,000 have lost their lives.

The pandemic is accelerating at an exponential rate.

The first 100 thousand cases took 67 days. The second 100 thousand took 11 days, the third 100 thousand took just 4 days and the fourth 100 thousand just 2 days.

Without aggressive action in all countries, millions could die.

The full social, economic and political fallout, only time will tell.

But we know that the price we end up paying depends on the choices we make now.

This is a global crisis that demands a global response.

Today, I have three requests for our esteemed leaders:

First, fight. Fight hard. Fight like hell.

Fight like your lives depend on it – because they do.

The best and only way to protect life, livelihoods and economies is to stop the virus.

No excuses. No regrets.

Thank you for the sacrifices your governments and people have already made.

Many of your countries have imposed drastic social and economic restrictions, shutting schools and businesses, and asking people to stay at home.

These measures will take some of the heat out of the epidemic, but they will not extinguish it.

We must do more.

We must immediately build, expand, train and deploy health workers to find, test, isolate and treat every case and trace every contact.

This is not an option; it’s an obligation.

Second, unite.

No country can solve this crisis alone.

We’re all in this together, and we will only get out of it together.

That means a paradigm shift in global solidarity – in sharing experiences, expertise and resources, and in working together to keep supply lines open, and supporting nations who need our support.

The global shortage of personal protective equipment is putting front-line responders in danger – and that puts all of us in danger.

We call on all of your nations to increase production, remove export bans and ensure equity of distribution.

Third, ignite.

Repurpose the industrial might of your nations for this effort.

Ignite global production for the tools we need to save lives now.

Ignite innovation for vaccines and therapeutics.

And ignite a global movement to ensure this never happens again.

The actions we take now will have consequences for decades to come.

COVID-19 is taking so much from us. But it is also giving us something: the opportunity to come together as one against a common threat, and to build a common future.

We may speak different tongues and adhere to different creeds, but we are made of the same stuff. We are one human race.




And let our singular resolve be: never again.

Shukran jazeelan, Your Majesty. Thank you so much.

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Source: World Health Organization

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