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February 24, 2022

Macro view: Covid-19 widens the job quality gap

Employers will need to design psychologically healthy and safe work arrangements to overcome risks of stress and burnout that are more common today than before the Covid pandemic, say experts.

Jim Stanford

Jim Stanford, economist and director of the of the Centre for Future Work, retweeted an article shared by Graham Lowe, a workplace consultant  at The Graham Lowe Group, on the impact of Covid-19 on the future of work. He emphasises that workers’ mental health issues have amplified because of the pandemic, leading to stress, anxiety, and burnout.

Lowe explains that the need for fostering resilience, in the form of agility and flexibility,  which can help teams and individuals confront the pandemic challenges at work is crucial. Lockdowns presented new challenges for workforces worldwide, including the inability to manage long hours of work, to working parents struggling to balance their work and children.

As a result, some countries introduced constructive measures to address work-life issues, such as the recent federal-provincial childcare funding commitments in Canada, Portugal’s initiative to ban employers from contacting their employees after work hours, and reducing the work week to four days instead of seven.

The pandemic has also widened the job quality gap, with frontline and essential workers facing heightened risks from the disease, stress, and burnout, while white-collar workers quickly adapted to remote working trends. Employers will therefore have to focus on dealing with health and safety risks, such as offering paid sick leaves and enhancing workplace mental health resources to close this gap, Lowe stated.

Chad P Bown

Chad P Bown, senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics (PIIE), a research fellow at Centre for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR), and a non-resident fellow at the WTI, tweeted on the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) having been granted clearance for the export of four more batches of AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine outside the US. The vaccines were produced at Emergent BioSolutions’ Baltimore plant, and is likely to be the last round of updates the agency is providing about the quarantined doses from the plant.

The FDA maintained that the AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine was not authorised for use in the US, but will be exported outside of the US after careful reviewing of the manufacturer’s facility records and quality testing results. The move intended to meet the current global demand for Covid-19 vaccines.

The problem arose when drug substance from Johnson & Johnson’s (J&J) Covid-19 vaccine batch was contaminated during a mix-up with AstraZeneca’s viral vectors at the company’s Bayview facility. This led to 15 million doses of the J&J Covid-19 shot being ruined, and 60 million doses getting tossed, as the FDA isolated and tested more doses.

Dean Baker

Dean Baker, senior economist at the Centre for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR), retweeted an article shared by Haley Brown, a research associate at CEPR, on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) withholding large portions of the Covid-19 data related to boosters, hospitalisations, and more recently, wastewater analyses, due to worries over misuse or misrepresentation.

Brown tweeted that this was an unacceptable reason for concealing critical information on the virus crisis, similar to, for instance, the Bureau of Labour Statistics (BLS) opting not to release economic data to keep away from misinterpretation. It is being speculated that government agency has been collecting enormous data on Covid hospitalisations for more than a year now, but has not been revealing the information to the public.

It is also believed that when the agency published the first significant data on boosters and its effectiveness in adults younger than 65 years two weeks ago, it left out a huge section of the population, that is, 18 to 49-year-olds, who are least likely to benefit from booster shots.

The CDC also introduced a dashboard of wastewater data recently on its website, which will include daily updates and early information regarding a surge in Covid-19 infection rates. It is believed that some US states and areas had been sharing wastewater information with the agency since the beginning of the pandemic, but those findings were never released earlier.

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