Saturday, May 15, 2021

Immunization delays in poor countries threaten the rich world’s economy

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Advanced economies face a blow to their economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic unless they help developing countries speed up their immunization programs, according to a report to be released by the World Organization on Monday of health.

If vaccine deployment in developing countries continues on its current trajectory, advanced economies face production losses of up to $ 2.4 billion – 3.5% of their annual gross domestic product before the pandemic – due to disruptions in global trade and supply chains, according to the study told me.

“The longer we wait to provide vaccines, tests and treatments to all countries, the faster the virus sets in, the more the potential for variants emerges, the more ineffective today’s vaccines could become, and the more it will be. difficult. all countries to recover, ”said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General. “No one is safe until everyone is safe.”

The research illustrates the interconnected nature of the global economic recovery and means that even though the world’s major countries are successful in rapidly vaccinating their vulnerable populations, they still face significant economic vulnerabilities from the pandemic.

“Emerging and developing economies are linked to advanced economies through exports and imports, not just finished products,” said Sebnem Kalemli-Ozcan of the University of Maryland, lead author of the report.

“If these countries do not get the vaccine or do not receive it late, they will not recover, they will not provide the intermediate goods needed by advanced economies and they will not have the same level of demand for exports from advanced economies. . “

Overall, a delay in containing the pandemic in emerging economies would wipe out about $ 4.4 billion in global production this year, or about 5.7% of annual global production before the pandemic, according to the study, commissioned by the International Chamber of Commerce and has been seen by the Financial Times. According to the study, more than half of the impact would be passed on to high-income countries.

WHO warned of a global “catastrophic moral failure” as the poorest countries fall behind the richest in accessing vaccines.

The Covax facility – which was set up last year by WHO, Gavi and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations to ensure equitable distribution of vaccines – has struggled to mobilize support from rich countries and faces a funding gap of $ 27 billion.

The finance ministers of Norway and South Africa called on other ministers from the G20, OECD and Covax member countries to meet on January 29 to discuss closing the funding gap.

This would provide a return on investment of more than 166 times by avoiding the expected loss of production, according to the ICC study.

The research examined the trade links and supply chains of 65 countries and 35 industries and estimated the impact on trade and economic production under various vaccination scenarios, depending on whether or not the workers in each sector work in close proximity to each other.

In the most extreme scenario, where rich countries receive vaccines this year but emerging and developing countries do not, the impact on global production would be $ 9.2 billion.

The baseline scenario, resulting in a loss of production of $ 4.4 billion, assumes that advanced economies vaccinate their vulnerable populations by the end of April and that emerging and developing economies reach the same point at the start of the year. next year.

Ms Kalemli-Ozcan warned that there were certain risks that this estimate did not cover, including the possibility that it would take longer one year to reach vulnerable populations in poor countries, and that the the virus could mutate and continue to spread in advanced economies even if they reach critical levels of inoculation.

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