Gordon Brown and Tony Blair have joined 165 global leaders in calling for the richest countries to invest billions in the fightback against coronavirus - or face a dangerous second wave hitting the UK as it spreads across the developing world.

A letter from the group, which includes 92 former Presidents and Prime Ministers from across the globe, demands a multi-billion pound "fighting fund" is created to fight the virus.

They warn that without it Covid-19 will overwhelm the health care systems of poorer nations, with fatal consequences at home and abroad.

Addressed to leaders of the G20 group of wealthiest nations, it urges funding "far beyond" current levels for vaccine research and containment.

It also calls for debt cancellations for the most cash strapped nations.

LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 20: (L) Former Prime Ministers Tony Blair and Gordon Brown attend a service of thanksgiving to remember the life of Lord Jeremy Heywood at Westminster Abbey on June 20, 2019 in London, England.Lord Jeremy Heywood of Whitehall GCB CVO served as Head of the Civil Service until shortly before his death in 2018. Former Prime Ministers, senior politicians, civil servants joined his family and friends at a service of thanksgiving for his life and work. (Photo by Henry Nicholls - WPA Pool/Getty Images)

“The economic emergency will not be resolved until the health emergency is addressed: the health emergency will not end simply by conquering the disease in one country alone but by ensuring recovery from COVID-19 in all countries,” the statement said.

The former Labour leaders are calling for $8billion to invest in research for a cure and treatment, $35billion to fund the purchase of ventilators, test kits and protective equipment, and $150billion for developing countries to get them ready to face the virus.

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The letter adds: "All health systems – even the most sophisticated and best-funded – are buckling under the pressures of the virus.

"Yet if we do nothing as the disease spreads in poorer African, Asian and Latin American cities which have little testing equipment, hardly any ventilators, and few medical supplies; and where social distancing and even washing hands are difficult to achieve, Covid-19 will persist there – and re-emerge to hit the rest of the world with further rounds that will prolong the crisis.

They also call for coordinated action to stop another global economic crisis and they call on countries to adopt "ambitious" plans to help support spending and keep people in work as lockdowns hit economies across the world.