G20 leaders pledge $5 trillion for global economy amid Corona virus

Paper: II

For Prelims: G20 summit.

For Mains: Bilateral, Regional and Global Groupings and Agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.

Context of News:

  • Amid rising cases of Covid-19 positive cases PM of India Mooted for Virtual G20 summit in 2nd week of March. In a major show of unity against the Covid-19 virus outbreak, G-20 leaders including Prime Minister of India took part in G20 virtual summit to advance a coordinated global response to the pandemic and its economic implications.

About G20 & G7:

  • About G20:
  • The G20 is an international forum for the governments and central bank governors from 19 countries and the European Union.
  • Established in 1999 after a series of major international debt crises, the G20 aims to unite world leaders around shared economic, political and health challenges. It is a creation of the more select Group of 7, an informal bloc of industrialized democracies.
  • The G20 comprises 19 countries and the European Union. The 19 countries are Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Germany, France, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States.
  • About G7:
  • G7 stands for “Group of Seven” industrialized nations. It used to be known as the G8 (Group of Eight) until 2014 when Russia was excluded because of its annexation of Crimea from Ukraine.
  • The G7 was created more than four decades ago as an annual gathering of political leaders to discuss and exchange ideas on a broad range of issues, including global economy, security and energy.
  • The group includes the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, Canada, Japan, France and Italy. Together, the G7 countries represent 40% of global GDP and 10% of the world’s population.
  • Differences between G20 and G7:
  • They have similar names and similar functions. While the G7 mainly has to do with politics, the G20 is a broader group that focuses on the global economy. It’s also known as the “Summit on Financial Markets and the World Economy” and represents 80% of global GDP.
  • G20 after the Asian financial crisis in 1997-1998 started off as a meeting of finance ministers and central bank governors. However, as a response to the financial crisis of 2008, the G20 was upgraded to head of state level in an inaugural summit in Washington, D.C.

Agreement made in G20 Summit:

  • Creation of Covid-19 Solidarity Response Fund:
  • G20 countries committed to inject more than $5 trillion into the global economy, and contribute to the World Health Organisation (WHO) led COVID-19 solidarity response fund.
  • Joint Statement for Fight Against Covid-19:
  • G20 leaders said COVID-19 pandemic is a powerful reminder of interconnectedness and vulnerabilities.
  • As virus respects no borders so Combating pandemic like this requires transparent, robust, coordinated, large-scale and science-based global response in the spirit of solidarity.
  • G20 leaders also agreed to share timely and transparent information; exchange epidemiological and clinical data; share materials necessary for research and development; and strengthen health systems globally, including through supporting the full implementation of the WHO International Health Regulations.

Differences in G20 Summit:

As far as differences are concerned, that is coming out from this meeting. According to sources privy to the deliberations said that:

  • There had been no “effort to ascribe blame or responsibility” for the pandemic, and the focus for the G-20 leadership was on how to handle the global challenge and help the rest of the world deal with it.
  • G20 leaders also failed to discuss come of the rising concerns like functioning of WHO in biased manner.
  • Lockdown Differences:
  • There have been differences in the approach by G-20 countries towards lockdowns in order to control the pandemic spread through social distancing. Mr. Trump had hinted that he wanted to lift the shutdown in the US as it was impacting the economy, saying that the “cure cannot be worse than the problem itself.”
  • Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro has called state-imposed lockdowns a “crime,” while countries like India have imposed a stringent 21-day lockdown across the country.
  • Who Failure:
  • Many countries have been critical of WHO’s failure to alert the world quickly enough of the potential threat from the pandemic, even after it had been informed of its spread in Wuhan by China on December 31 last year. Others, most notably the United States, have been particularly critical of China for not having been transparent and shared information about the pandemic, and have even called for the virus to be named the “Chinese virus” or the “Wuhan virus,” a move China has opposed strongly.
  • Adding to this scenario PM of India pitched for reform in WHO and its way of functioning.Prime Minister Modi, called for a bigger mandate and more funding for the World Health Organisation, which he said had failed to “adapt itself to deal with the new challenges the international community has faced.

Way Forward:

  • Clearly, this is not the right time for blame game and indulging oneself in naming of virus, which USA and China is playing as of now. What is need of an hour is to have coordinated and powerful international response to corona virus pandemic.
  • This pandemic is not a challenge that we can face alone; we must work through every multilateral institution in which we participate. We must unite to combat this virus and the lasting impacts it will have on our citizens’ health and economic well-being. We must put aside political differences. Now is the time for action.


Taking testing cue from South Korea, ICMR seeks 5 lakh antibody kits

Paper: III

For Mains: Security Challenges and their Management in Border Areas – Linkages of Organized Crime with Terrorism.

Context of News:

  • As India is about to enter its 3rd stage of its fight against novel corona Virus. As part of efforts to step up testing for corona virus, the Indian Council of Medical Research has invited manufacturers to supply 5 lakh antibody kits for diagnosis of infection.
  • Experts in the government point out that the serological test will act as a screening process, as was done in South Korea, one of the few countries which has been able to flatten the pandemic curve.

About First Made-in-India COVID-19 test kit:

  • Earlier Pune-based molecular diagnostics company Mylab Discovery Solutions Pvt Ltd, which specialises in molecular diagnostic kits has developed first made-in-India test kit for COVID-19 in a record time of six weeks. The kit — Mylab PathoDetect COVID-19 Qualitative PCR kit — is the first one to receive commercial approval from the Indian FDA/ Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO).
  • With emphasis on ‘Make in India’ and support from local and central government, the COVID- 19 kit has been made as per WHO/CDC guidelines. It was developed and evaluated in a record time.

Testing Numbers in Comparison:

  • Currently, India ranks lowest in terms of testing done per million populations. The number is as low as 6.8. Countries like South Korea and Singapore have been able to contain the growing number of Corona virus cases by enhancing the number of testing.
  • Singapore and South Korea are following the needle approach ,pin-pointed, intense action rather than a broader hammer. And it appears to be working. Japan, where the outbreak appears to have been controlled, seems even more sanguine.
  • So far the Indian government has been sourcing millions of testing kits from Germany to facilitate testing to diagnose Corona virus patients PAN-India. However, the dependency on foreign kits has been troublesome and supply is getting blocked due to grounded airlines. This can change with the approval for made in India kits.
  • Mylab promised that it can manufacture up to 1 lakh tests in a week that can be further scaled up if needed. Further, the company claims that its test kits can test about 100 patients with one kit. An average lab with automated PCR can test more than 1000 patients a day.

Benefits of Anti Body test:

  • Quick Process:
  • The advantage is that the antibody test is very simple. Just a drop of blood is required and the results will be available in just one-two hours. Some kits require whole blood and some kits require blood to be centrifuged. However, one needs to remember that is not a test that will definitely tell you that a person is infected with COVID-19 infection.
  • Antibody test Provides more clarity:
  • The conventional RT-PCR test (reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction) being done in India detects the virus genetic material, which is the RNA. The antibody test will detect the body’s response to the virus. The former is direct evidence and the latter the indirect evidence. Therefore, the antibody test will be used as a screening test where large number of people are being quarantined and where everybody cannot undergo RNA test

Way Forward:

  • What India really needs to combat COVID-19 now is Aggressive testing, containment in small pockets.
  • Entry screening should be paired with collecting data about the patient’s whereabouts over the past few weeks that can later help with tracing their contacts. Travelers should also be given information to increase disease awareness and encouraged to practice good personal hygiene.
  • Ultimately measures aimed at catching infections in travelers will only delay a local epidemic and not prevent it.
  • Testing is crucial:
  • Examples of China and South Korea have shown that countries give themselves a fighting chance when they take steps that assume they’re worse off than they appear to be.
  • Testing is central because that leads to early detection, it minimizes further spread, and it quickly treats those found with the virus. Testing is the key behind our very low fatality rate as well. Uncontrolled circulation could lead to cases doubling every two days.
  • Free healthcare helps:
  • A major factor in success or failure in the fight against an epidemic is the degree to which the public responds to the crisis. People must see an incentive to raise their hands to help the government, including by declaring their own illness.
  • Analysts have note that in South Korea and China, where healthcare is heavily subsidised or paid for by the state, people have come forward to test and be treated. Testing is free in India, too.