The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has said the world is in the third year of the COVID -19 pandemic, and the health and economic losses continue to grow.
More than 6 million people have died according to official estimates, with studies estimating the actual death toll ranging from 16 to 20 million, approximately equal to that of World War I and the IMF’s World Economic Outlook (IMF 2022) has projected the cumulative output loss from the pandemic through 2024 to be about $13.8 trillion, the Bretton Woods Institution said.
“The sharp rise in cases and deaths in some countries in Asia and the resurgence of cases in Europe are a stark reminder that the pandemic is not over.
“The global economic recovery continues to be constrained by unequal access to tools to prevent and treat COVID-19 and uneven policy support to address the impact of the pandemic.
“Several of the challenges the global economy faces, such as supply disruptions, inflation, and persistent uncertainty, also follow from the fact that the world remains in the pandemic’s grip. COVID-19 is expected to leave lasting imprints on the economic potential of many countries,” the IMF’s Global Strategy to Manage the Long-Term Risks of COVID-19 released on Tuesday April 5 said.
It added “Despite the strong consensus that ending the acute phase of the pandemic is an urgent global priority, there has been insufficient progress toward the global targets set by the ACT Accelerator1 (ACT-A) and the IMF Pandemic Proposal for the delivery and use of available countermeasures (WHO 2021; Agarwal and Gopinath, 2021a,b). On vaccines, 86 countries did not meet the 40 percent vaccination target by the end of 2021, and disparities in vaccine access and uptake remain significant. Under current trends, over 100 countries are unlikely to meet the 70 percent vaccination target set for mid-2022—and several may never reach it.
“On tests, the daily target was set at 1 per 1,000 people, and about two in three developing economies continue to test below this target despite the Omicron wave. Meanwhile, high-income countries are testing 80 times more than low-income countries. There are similar gaps in access to oxygen, treatments, and personal protective equipment (PPE). And there is an imbalance across countries when it comes to disease surveillance underpinned by testing and genomic sequencing—an important tool for identifying new virus strains and developing adequate vaccines and treatments. This means we detect variants where we have capabilities to detect them, not necessarily where they are occurring.
“Ending the acute phase of this pandemic everywhere remains an essential priority, while we simultaneously evolve our global strategy to manage the long-term risks of COVID-19. Two emerging facts will influence how we inform these goals. First, as we go through the Omicron wave, much if not most of the world population is expected to be either vaccinated or to have been infected, and many will be both vaccinated and convalescent.
“Both types of exposure offer some protection against severe disease and death, though to a different extent. Second, while vaccinations are highly beneficial, there is growing evidence that vaccines (nor infection-induced immunity) do not represent “silver bullets” against the evolving SARS-CoV2 virus. And unlike diseases such as smallpox, which could be eradicated with widespread vaccination, it is probable that SARS-CoV-2 will never be eradicated and will continue to evolve in human and animal populations. Considering these developments, we propose a central post-Omicron pivot in global priorities to manage both the uncertainty and the long-term risks of COVID-19.”
By Laud Nartey|3news.com|Ghana with additional files from the IMF