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New strategy to address the economic consequences of coronavirus

Women, young and less-educated workers are the groups most likely to be at a economic disadvantage during the pandemic.

As a devastating coronavirus wave has eased, Indians have thronged markets and malls in many cities. — © Prakash SINGH AFP
As a devastating coronavirus wave has eased, Indians have thronged markets and malls in many cities. — © Prakash SINGH AFP

The impact of the coronavirus pandemic has not only had an enormous health impact, it has carried significant economic consequences. Many of these shockwaves have been felt most heavily in lower income countries.

For example, a review in Nature found that with Ethiopia, Malawi, Nigeria and Uganda, these nations have 256 million individuals—77 percent of the population—who live in households that have lost income during the pandemic.

In response to these economic woes, across Latin America and the Caribbean countries, the World Bank Group has deployed $29.1 billion into this region from the beginning of the crisis. This is an example of the sustained nonpharmaceutical interventions needed to avoid overwhelming health care capacity, as well as for boosting economic outcome and life-chances.

The additional funds from the bank span the period April 1, 2020 to June 30, 2021. The money has been hypothecated to fight the pandemic’s health, economic, and social impacts. In addition, some of the funds are intended to help support the region as it respond to other significant challenges like hurricanes and migration.

All told, the package represents the largest crisis response of any such period in the Bank Group’s history.

The Bank is additionally supporting over 50 low- and middle-income countries, more than half of which are in Africa, to purchase and deploy of SARS-Cov-2 vaccines. This is by making available $20 billion in financing for this purpose until the end of 2022.

The Bank is particularly concerned that women, young and less-educated workers, who comprise groups that were likely at a disadvantage in the labor market even before the shock, are now even more likely to lose their job in the immediate aftermath of the pandemic.

It also stands those who are facing multiple forms of social and economic exclusion include migrants, people with disabilities, older people, and groups facing ethnic, racial or religious discrimination. These demographic groups are at a heightened risk of poverty.

With the young specifically, the World Bank estimates that COVID-related school closures have pushed an additional 72 million primary school aged children into learning poverty—meaning that they are unable to read and understand a simple text by age 10.

It is for these various reasons that the World Bank has been offering financial support and advice. Whether this sum is sufficient is not easy to quantify, and probably no sum can easily address centuries of economic disadvantage. However, the amount pledged will provide a level of support to help vulnerable countries challenge the secondary symptoms of the coronavirus.

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Written By

Dr. Tim Sandle is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for science news. Tim specializes in science, technology, environmental, business, and health journalism. He is additionally a practising microbiologist; and an author. He is also interested in history, politics and current affairs.

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