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A Coordinated Response to COVID-19

Short of a vaccine, international cooperation is our best weapon against a deadly virus like COVID-19 – and our best defense against global economic collapse. As in the wake of the 2008 global financial crisis, the G20 should take the lead.

NEW YORK – Within just a few months, the COVID-19 coronavirus has enveloped the world, infecting 435,000 people, killing more than 19,000, and overwhelming even advanced economies’ health systems. Once the shock hits vulnerable low-income countries, the already-high human and economic costs will rise further – for the entire world. The only chance we have of limiting the fallout is to work together.

When the news first broke that a novel coronavirus had emerged in China, many assumed that the outbreak’s trajectory would resemble that of the last China-born coronavirus, severe acute respiratory syndrome. But the 2002-03 SARS outbreak lasted only six months, and affected just 26 countries.

As such, that outbreak’s economic consequences – borne primarily by the services sector – were short-lived and concentrated largely in China, though neighboring economies were affected through trade and finance. When the outbreak ended, the Chinese economy recovered rapidly, with fiscal and monetary expansion supporting a rebound in consumption and investment.