Coronavirus: new global platform launched for companies and governments to work together

World Economic Forum partnered with the World Health Organisation to roll out a first-of-its-kind digital community

epa08285089 Medical staff celebrate after all patients were discharged at Wuchang Fangcang hospital, a temporary hospital set up at Hongshan gymnasium to treat people infected with the coronavirus and COVID-19 disease, in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China, 10 March 2020 (issued 11 March 2020). The temporary hospital closes on 10 March after China reported days of decline in the number of new coronavirus cases originating in the country. However, the number of coronavirus cases imported to China continued to rise, with 40 percent of the latest 24 infections reported on 11 March stemming from overseas.  EPA/YFC CHINA OUT

The World Economic Forum is partnering with the World Health Organisation to roll out a first-of-its-kind digital platform for the global business community to address challenges related to the Covid-19 outbreak.

The Pandemic Supply Chain Network is one of the first projects to launch on the Covid Action Platform. It will aim to ensure that essential health commodities are available and affordable. Other actions will include supporting business donations to the public health response and the development of vaccines, diagnostics, treatments and protective equipment, as well as tracking the economic impact of the virus and pursuing collaboration to address disruptions.

The director-general of the WHO urged business leaders to take part in the effort.

“The private sector has an essential role to play in combatting this public health crisis through their expertise, innovation and resources,” said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. “We call on companies and organisations around the world to make full use of this platform.”

Earlier this week, the United Nations warned that the spread of Covid-19 will trigger a recession in some countries and could push global annual growth to decelerate below 2.5 per cent — a level often taken to be a recessionary threshold for the global economy.

The global death toll has passed 4,280 from 119,108 reported cases, while 65,765 people have recovered at the time of writing.

The Covid Action Platform is open to all global businesses and industry groups, as well as governments that want to work with the private sector on their response. It will be a place where participants can offer their help and collaborate on specific projects, launch actions and keep each other informed of best practices.

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The effort mimics strides made in the scientific community globally to share information, which the forum dubbed “the age of international science cooperation”.

Just over a month after the first case of Covid-19 was diagnosed, there were preliminary works on vaccines, treatments, epidemiology and genetic sequencing, while more than 700 peer-reviewed articles were published on this topic, according to the WEF. It took more than a year to reach less than half that number of articles during the Sars epidemic in 2003. In addition, most scientific journals have left their publications as open access on the subject of coronaviruses.

This is the first initiative of its kind to operate globally and follows a conference call with over 200 corporate leaders from all over the world. It is supported by WHO and the Wellcome Trust.

“Covid-19 is causing health emergencies and economic disruptions that no single stakeholder can address,” said Klaus Schwab, the founder and executive chairman of the WEF. “Our best and only response to it should be to take concerted action. The Covid Action Platform is at the centre of our mission.”