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United Nations Comprehensive Response to COVID-19: Saving Lives, Protecting Societies, Recovering Better

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Executive Summary

Seventy-five years after the last world war, the world has found itself yet again in a global battle. This time, all of humanity is on the same side against coronavirus disease, or COVID-19. The pandemic has swiftly taken hundreds of thousands of lives, infected millions of people, upended the global economy and caused pervasive fear for the future.
The United Nations mobilized early and comprehensively, leading on the global health response, continuing and expanding the provision of lifesaving humanitarian assistance, establishing instruments for rapid responses to the socio-economic impact and laying out a broad policy agenda for action on all fronts. It has also provided operational support to governments and other partners around the world.

Now, equipped with months of experience, best practices and valuable lessons, we issue this comprehensive overview of the UN response in its entirety to date. The overview recounts our key guidance, lessons and support so far – and points the way to the crucial steps that must follow to save lives, protect societies and recover better. It amounts to a recipe for a comprehensive response to and recovery from COVID-19 that will leave no one behind and address the very fragilities and gaps that made us so vulnerable to the pandemic in the first place. It also points the way toward building resilience to future shocks – above all from climate change – and toward overcoming the severe and systemic inequalities that have been so tragically exposed by the pandemic.

The pandemic is more than a health crisis; it is an economic crisis, a humanitarian crisis, a security crisis, and a human rights crisis. It has affected us as individuals, as families and as societies. The crisis has highlighted fragilities within and among nations. It is no exaggeration to suggest that our response will involve remaking and reimagining the very structures of societies and the ways in which countries cooperate for the common good. Coming out of this crisis will require a whole-of-society, whole-of-government and whole-of-the-world approach driven by compassion and solidarity