Urgent steps are needed to arrest the rising human toll and economic strain from the COVID-19 pandemic that are exacerbating already-diverging recoveries. Pandemic policy is also economic policy as there is no durable end to the economic crisis without an end to the health crisis. Building on existing initiatives, this paper proposes pragmatic actions at the national and multilateral level to expeditiously defeat the pandemic. The proposal targets: (1) vaccinating at least 40 percent of the population in all countries by the end of 2021 and at least 60 percent by the first half of 2022, (2) tracking and insuring against downside risks, and (3) ensuring widespread testing and tracing, maintaining adequate stocks of therapeutics, and enforcing public health measures in places where vaccine coverage is low. The benefits of such measures at about $9 trillion far outweigh the costs which are estimated to be around $50 billion—of which $35 billion should be paid by grants from donors and the residual by national governments potentially with the support of concessional financing from bilateral and multilateral agencies. The grant funding gap identified by the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator amounts to about $22 billion, which the G20 recognizes as important to address. This leaves an estimated $13 billion in additional grant contributions needed to finance our proposal. Importantly, the strategy requires global cooperation to secure upfront financing, upfront vaccine donations, and at-risk investment to insure against downside risks for the world.
The upswing in global investment and trade continued in the second half of 2017. At 3.8 percent, global growth in 2017 was the fastest since 2011. With financial conditions still supportive, global growth is expected to tick up to a 3.9 percent rate in both 2018 and 2019. Advanced economies will grow faster than potential this year and next; euro area economies are set to narrow excess capacity with support from accommodative monetary policy, and expansionary fiscal policy will drive the US economy above full employment. Aggregate growth in emerging market and developing economies is projected to firm further, with continued strong growth in emerging Asia and Europe and a modest upswing in commodity exporters after three years of weak performance. Global growth, however, is projected to soften beyond the next couple of years, with most advanced economies likely returning to potential growth rates well below precrisis averages. Growth is projected to remain subpar in several emerging market and developing economies, including in some commodity exporters that continue to face substantial fiscal consolidation needs. Beyond the next few quarters risks clearly lean to the downside. The current recovery offers a window of opportunity to advance policies and reforms that secure the current upswing and raise medium-term growth to the benefit of all.