A woman reacts when she is vaccinated against Covid-19 with a dose of the Covishield vaccine on August 12, 2021 at a vaccination center in Mumbai.
PUNIT PARANJPE | AFP | Getty Images
The global economy will lose trillions of GDP due to late vaccination deadlines, with developing countries bearing the most losses due to uneven introduction, the Economist Intelligence Unit said in a report.
Countries that fail to vaccinate 60% of their populations by mid-2022 will lose $ 2.3 trillion between 2022 and 2025, the EIU predicted.
“The emerging economies will shoulder about two-thirds of these losses, which will further delay their economic convergence with the more developed countries,” wrote Agathe Demarais, EIU’s global forecasting director.
There is little chance that the vaccine access gap will ever be bridged.
Global Forecasting Director for the Economist Intelligence Unit
Asia will be “by far the hardest hit continent” in absolute terms, with losses of $ 1.7 trillion, or 1.3% of the region’s forecast GDP. Countries in sub-Saharan Africa will lose around 3% of their forecast GDP, the highest percentage, according to the report.
“These estimates are striking, but they only partially capture missed economic opportunities, especially in the long run,” the EIU said, noting that the impact of the pandemic on education was not included in this forecast. Richer countries turned to distance learning during the lockdown, but many in developing countries did not have that option.
More than 213 million people have contracted Covid-19 and at least 4.4 million have died during the pandemic, data compiled by Johns Hopkins University showed.
Wealthy nations are moving far in their Covid vaccination rates, moving towards a booster and reopening their economies, while poorer countries are drastically lagging behind in the race for vaccination.
As of August 23, around 5 billion doses of the vaccine had been given worldwide, but according to Our World in Data, the figure was only 15.02 million of those doses in low-income countries.
“The vaccination campaigns are advancing at an icy pace in low-income economies,” says the EIU report.
The report said that vaccine injustice was due to global shortages of manufacturing capacity and vaccine raw materials, logistical difficulties in transporting and storing vaccines, and hesitation due to suspicion of vaccines.
Many developing countries cannot afford vaccines for their residents either, and hope for donations from richer countries, but global initiatives have not been entirely successful in providing vaccines to those in need.
“There’s little chance the vaccine access gap will ever be bridged,” EIU’s Demarais said in a statement. “COVAX, the WHO-sponsored initiative to ship vaccines to emerging countries, has not lived up to (modest) expectations. “
“Despite flattering press releases and generous promises, donations from rich countries have only covered a fraction of the need – and often they are not even delivered,” she wrote.
Covax aimed to ship around 2 billion doses of vaccine this year, but has only shipped 217 million doses so far, according to UNICEF tracker.
Some of the shipments went to developed countries such as the UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, the Associated Press reported.
Effects of Inequality
Poorer countries are likely to recover from the pandemic more slowly, especially if restrictions have to be reintroduced due to lower vaccination rates, the EIU said.
Tourists could also avoid countries with large unvaccinated populations for safety reasons, while political resentment is likely to increase, the report said. Residents may be unhappy that their local governments cannot provide vaccines and see states richer than hoarders of the shots.
“Social unrest is very likely in the months and years to come,” wrote Demarais.
Additionally, the virus situation continues to evolve, with herd immunity likely out of reach due to the highly transmissible Delta variant and vaccination being sought “more modestly” to reduce severe cases, hospitalizations and deaths, the report said.
Political leaders are busy responding to short-term emergencies such as the rapid rise in infection rates, but now need to develop a longer-term strategy, Demarais wrote.
“Here, too, the rich-poor contrast will be strong: vaccinated, richer states have a choice, unvaccinated, poorer ones don’t,” she said.