United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres warned on Tuesday that the coronavirus pandemic is the greatest challenge the world faces since World War II, AP reported. Guterres called for a much stronger and more effective global response to the pandemic.

The secretary general said the crisis will bring a recession “that probably has no parallel in the recent past”. A study by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development had said earlier this week that there will be a loss of trillions of dollars of global income this year due to the pandemic. It had added that except possibly India and China, the economies of all developing countries will face recession.

The United Nations chief, launching a report on the socioeconomic impact of the pandemic on Tuesday, said it will also bring “enhanced instability, enhanced unrest, and enhanced conflict” to the world.

“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,” the report said. “But this is much more than a health crisis. It is a human crisis. The coronavirus disease is attacking societies at their core.”

Guterres told reporters after the launch that the magnitude of the response to the crisis must match its scale. He said large-scale, coordinated and comprehensive responses need to be undertaken under the aegis of the World Health Organization.

Guterres said many countries have not been respecting WHO guidelines, instead using their own methods to deal with the pandemic. “We are only as strong as the weakest health system in our interconnected world,” he said. “It is essential that developed countries immediately assist those less developed to bolster their health systems and their response capacity to stop transmission.”

The United Nations chief said that while the Group of 20 has mobilised $5 trillion to fight the pandemic, most of this is being used by developed countries to protect their own economies. “We are far from having a global package to help the developing world to create the conditions both to suppress the disease and to address the dramatic consequences in their populations,” he added.

Guterres said he strongly supports an idea from French President Emmanuel Macron, Russian President Vladimir Putin and German Chancellor Angela Merkel for a global initiative to help Africa combat the pandemic, but added that action must be taken quickly.

The report also cited International Labor Organization estimates for 2020, that between 5 million and 25 million jobs will be lost, with a corresponding loss of between $860 million and $3.4 trillion in labour income. Guterres announced the establishment of a Covid-19 Response and Recovery Fund to help tackle the crisis in low and middle-income countries.

Over 8,58,000 people have been infected with Covid-19 globally, and over 42,000 have died, according to an estimate by Johns Hopkins University as of Wednesday morning. More than 1,69,000 people have recovered from the illness.