U.N. Labels Pandemic ‘Most Challenging Crisis’ Since WWII, Projects Response Will Require 10 Percent of Global GDP

Mairead McArdle

The United Nations chief on Wednesday dubbed the coronavirus pandemic the “most challenging crisis” the world has faced since World War II, and called for a greater global response to match the scale of the emergency.

“We are facing a global health crisis unlike any in the 75-year history of the United Nations – one that is killing people, spreading human suffering, and upending people’s lives,” U.N. secretary general António Guterres said. “But this is much more than a health crisis. It is a human crisis. The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is attacking societies at their core.”

“This is, indeed, the most challenging crisis we have faced since the Second World War,” Guterres said before calling for “a stronger and more effective response that is only possible in solidarity if everybody come together and if we forget political games and understand that it is humankind that is at stake.”

The U.N. chief warned that the pandemic will “bring a recession that probably has no parallel in the recent past,” adding that the crisis will also likely contribute to “enhanced instability, enhanced unrest, and enhanced conflict.”

Guterres’s comments came as he introduced a U.N. report that calls for a wordwide response to the coronavirus outbreak on a much larger scale than what has currently been mobilized, amounting to at least 10 percent of global GDP.

The report also calls for trade restrictions and taxes to be scrapped in order to keep medical supply chains intact.

“This is the moment to dismantle trade barriers, maintain open trade, and re-establish supply chains,” the report said. “Tariff and nontariff measures, as well as export bans, especially those imposed on medicinal and related products, would slow countries’ action to contain the virus. Import taxes or restrictions on medical supplies need to be waived.”

The report comes as cases of the coronavirus worldwide top 860,000 with more than 42,000 deaths from the respiratory illness. The U.S. currently has more than 185,000 confirmed cases of the virus, and deaths from the infection passed 4,000 early Wednesday morning. President Trump has warned of a “very painful” fight and projected a grim 100,000 to 240,000 U.S. deaths from the coronavirus.

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