Global collaborative approach needed to boost vaccine supply – leading macroeconomic influencers

17 February 2021 (Last Updated February 17th, 2021 09:45)

Vaccine manufacturers are struggling to keep pace with demand as the pandemic continues into a second year.

Global collaborative approach needed to boost vaccine supply – leading macroeconomic influencers
Credit: Tim Reckmann.

Economists believe that the US should inject its ambition to combat the global coronavirus crisis, by urging vaccine developers to share their vaccine technology and increase manufacturing capacities to quickly ramp up supply.

Dean Baker

Dean Baker, an economist, retweeted an article on the need for Joe Biden to mobilise the world community to produce the Covid-19 vaccine. Experts are of the opinion that allowing further spread and mutation of the virus will pose additional risks to public health and the economies at large.

Citing an example of the bird flu pandemic in 2006, which prompted the US government to teach the world how to make a flu vaccine, experts state that there is a need for the world community to develop more of the coronavirus vaccine. Regarded as the worst crisis since World War II, the pandemic requires more vaccine manufacturing and distribution to meet its scarcity across the globe. The Serum Institute of India has warned that the current production of vaccine may not suffice for everyone until 2024.

US’s bird flu programme helped scale flu vaccine manufacturing capacity across 13 countries through effective collaboration, technical assistance, and capacity building. It is being hoped that the US government will inject a similar plan to share the vaccine recipe, most of which is funded by taxpayers, and build manufacturing capacity.

Research suggests that if developing countries are unable to vaccinate most of their populations by the end of 2021, the world economy will lose $1.5tn to 9.2tn, with the US and other developed countries losing the lion’s share. Additionally, it would take years for low-income countries to achieve herd immunity.

Iglika Ivanova

Iglika Ivanova, an economist, retweeted an article on an Alberta slaughterhouse to close temporarily amidst growing Covid-19 outbreak at the meat plant that claimed one life. Experts state that workers fear going back to such an unsafe workplace after the death of their colleague.

Citing the fact that underprivileged people are getting lesser protections than the privileged during the coronavirus pandemic, experts reveal that the Olymel meat plant decided to temporarily shut down after three weeks since its first reported death of a staff member from coronavirus.

Interviews with workers at these meat plants, which has been home to some of the worst outbreaks of the pandemic, have revealed that they are afraid to return to work due to fear for their own health and their families.

Other employees also stated that there weren’t enough testing procedures in place given the number of their co-workers having tested positive for the virus. On expressing their concerns over continuing to work without getting their test results on time, workers were told they had to work because they needed money.

John Kay

John Kay, an academic economist and businessman, re-tweeted a discussion on the long-term implications of the Covid-19 crisis on the British economy. With the government borrowing more money over the past 12 months than ever before peacetime and the ratio of the public debt to national income being above 90%, Kay opines that the government can always repay the debt if it wants to. One way to do it is to repudiate it, an extreme political decision but has happened in other countries in Europe and the US or to inflate it away.

Economists believe that it is important to assess how quickly will the economy bounce back and how far will it bounce back, compared to pre-pandemic levels. Most of them also agree that there will be some permanent scarring to the economy from the pandemic. For example, forecasted data confirm that the economy will be about 2% smaller permanently because of Covid, compared to an estimated 4% hit to the economy because of Brexit.

While the ratio of public debt to national income is estimated to keep growing in the next few years, experts believe that it is not the level of debt that future governments would have to worry about scaling back public services and raise additional tax revenues.