The virtual G-20 summit hosted by Saudi Arabia began two days of talks by calling for a united response by the world's richest countries to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Participating leaders decided to concentrate on the more pressing problem of overcoming the human and economic pain inflicted by the pandemic.

It has infected three of the G-20 leaders: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro and President Donald Trump. All three have recovered.

Nine G-20 countries are among the top 20 with the most confirmed infections. The most infected country remains the U.S. Following it are India, Brazil, France, Russia, Spain, the U.K., Argentina and Italy, based on Worldometers data.

"The only effective response to the pandemic will be a coordinated, global one, based on solidarity," said French President Emmanuel Macron.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel called the pandemic "a global challenge" that can "only be overcome with a global effort."

King Salman bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud of Saudi Arabia praised the G-20 nations for investing $21 billion in world efforts to combat COVID-19 and $11 trillion to bolster the international economy.

He encouraged G-20 leaders to do more to provide access to vaccines and treatments and support the economies of developing nations affected by the economic effects.

"We have a duty to rise to the challenge together during this summit and give a strong message of hope and reassurance to our peoples through adopting policies to mitigate this crisis," King Salman said.

The pandemic continues to harm the economies of developing countries and has pushed millions into extreme poverty. It also impairs the ability of these countries to purchase COVID-19 vaccines currently under development.

On Nov. 20, UN Secretary-General António Guterres said another $28 billion was required to mass manufacture, procure and distribute coronavirus vaccines worldwide - especially to developing countries.

Guterres also called on G-20 nations to join "COVAX," the international initiative to distribute vaccines worldwide headed by the World Health Organization.

Guterres' appeal was directed at the G-20 countries that intend to secure their own vaccine supplies by relying on their wealth. G-20 members, the U.S., France and Germany have made deals with pharmaceutical companies to receive billions of vaccine doses.

Therefore, much of the world's vaccine supply for 2021 is already reserved. However, leaders of the G-20 promised to ensure a fair distribution of vaccines, drugs and tests around the world. They also promised to support poorer countries.