ISLAMABAD: A new report by The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) outlines economic, political, and geopolitical consequences of vaccine inequity, warning that Asia will be the continent most affected by delayed vaccination timelines with cumulative losses of $1.7 trillion approximately.
A model built by the EIU shows that those countries that will not have vaccinated 60 percent of their population by mid-2022 will register GDP losses totalling $2.3 trillion in 2022-25. Emerging countries will shoulder around two-thirds of these losses, further delaying their economic convergence towards advanced economies and fuelling poverty, said the report.
In absolute terms, Asia will be the continent most affected by delayed vaccination timelines with cumulative losses of $1.7 trillion. As a share of GDP, countries in sub-Saharan Africa register the highest losses, totalling 3 percent of the region’s forecast GDP in 2022-25.
Since the start of 2021, China and Russia have sent hundreds of millions of coronavirus jabs to emerging countries as part of a “vaccine diplomacy” operation. Eight months after they started, the results of these operations have been mixed. By contrast, China’s vaccine diplomacy has been a success. Despite its huge population, the country has managed to vaccinate residents at a fast pace (China is on track to reach 70% immunisation by end 2021), while becoming the world’s largest exporter of vaccines.
But the lower efficacy rate of Chinese vaccines poses risks as most Western countries do not recognise inoculation with Chinese jabs. This will hinder travel, further widening the divide between richer and poorer economies, said the report.
It warned the delayed rollout of vaccines could fuel resentment, increasing the risk of social unrest in developing economies.
Around 60 percent of the population of higher-income countries received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine as of late August, compared to just one percent in poorer nations, according to the study. Two doses are required to be fully vaccinated for most shots.
“Vaccination campaigns are progressing at a glacial pace in lower-income economies,” it said. The report’s author, Agathe Demarais, said the international effort to provide coronavirus vaccines to poor nations, Covax, has failed to live up to its even modest expectations.
“There is little chance that the divide over access to vaccines will ever be bridged” with rich countries providing only a fraction of what is needed, she said in a statement.
“Finally, the focus in developed economies is shifting towards administering booster doses of coronavirus vaccines, which will compound shortages of raw materials and production bottlenecks,” she added.