The COVID-19 crisis is far from business-as-usual: This message resonates from recent communiques from leading global institutions. From the International Monetary Fund to the World Bank to the World Health Organization to the United Nations, experts are doing whatever they can to get the message out. WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus addressed the world and stressed that while the pandemic is growing at an alarming pace, there is still time to come together and beat the spread of the virus.
The United Nations continues to urge a temporary cease-fire across the globe. UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres urged an immediate secession of hostilities to allow a concerted effort to fight the coronavirus. Guterres warned that healthcare systems in conflict zones are ill-equipped to deal with the pandemic, and hopes that geopolitical players can set aside their differences to address a crisis. Conflicts in Libya, Syria, Yemen, and the Sahel pose particular concern.
The World Bank continues to prepare aid packages for countries that will be less resilient to coming global financial difficulties. Billions in support will be ready for distribution to those countries worst affected. These packages are unlikely to bring satisfactory relief to millions without work or income, but the conditions of support are much less stringent than usual. The IMF is similarly requiring fewer stipulations and mobilized $50 billion for low- and middle-income countries in need.
The IMF outlined many ways that governments can help limit the crisis’s economic impact. The institution’s prescription consists of targeted stimulus programs and direct payments to citizens, sidelining austerity. The coming recession will be as bad, or worse, as the 2008 recession, according to the IMF. The organization also mentioned that a COVID-19 vaccine and current containment efforts could lead to a rapid recovery in 2021.
International institutions are preparing for the worst, and urging unprecedented global cooperation. Citizens must come to grips with our shared sense of humanity, and hope that national leaders will adopt a similar approach.