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February 26, 2021

Richer countries have more Covid vaccines than they need – leading macroeconomic influencers

In terms of vaccine geopolitics, richer countries have more doses contracted that they actually need

The lack of global preparedness and cooperation has led to lack of communication, social and political grip, and low genomic surveillance during the pandemic.

Markus Brunnermeier

Markus Brunnermeier, an economist, shared a webinar with Monica de Bolle, an economist and senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics (PIIE), on a chronic pandemic, policy implications, and vaccine geopolitics.

Experts believe that the nature of the SARS-CoV-2 virus is too dangerous and difficult to control, coupled with the rise in zoonotic viruses because of increased human contact with the environment.

It is also being observed that Covid testing is primarily focused on polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests, which are diagnostic tests that help in detecting the SARS-CoV-2 virus. However, they are not good for epidemiological control as they fail to catch people in the infectious window, which makes isolation and contact tracing more difficult. Countries have now emphasised rapid tests to identify viral loads in the infectious window.

In terms of vaccine geopolitics, richer countries have more doses contracted that they actually need. The whole inactivated vaccine, on the other hand, which is said to have higher robustness is currently being produced by only China and India. Other countries are unlikely to take it up due to high cost. Consequently, experts stress on vaccines being updated regularly, highlighting the importance of evaluating debt and deficit burdens arising out of the chronic virus crisis, and rebuild economics around public health.

Larry Mishel

Larry Mishel, an economist, retweeted an article on Biden’s administration announcing that US workers will still be eligible for pandemic unemployment assistance (PUA) if they turned down unsafe jobs on grounds of workplace environments not following appropriate Covid-19 guidelines.

Many workers have been declining to job offers or return to work due to unsafe working conditions marked by lack of social distancing and rapid Covid testing norms in the country. As a result, people are being pressurised to choose between staying healthy or earning money.

The Department of Labour made the shift in response to a President Biden’s January executive order that broadened the unemployment insurance eligibility to include workers whose unemployment benefits were being denied on ground of their refusal to return to workplaces that did not comply with coronavirus health and safety standards or turned down jobs due to fear of health concerns for themselves and their families.

Daniel Lacalle

Daniel Lacalle, an economist, shared a video on the eurozone slipping into a double-dip recession after the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic in the last quarter of 2020, which sent the currency bloc’s recovery into reverse. According to economists, there is a growing concern in Europe about the solvency problems that are building, including the existence of tremendous number of furloughed jobs, and numerous companies on the verge of bankruptcy because of the shutdown of the economy.

While the services sector is the most impacted, figures estimated by Central Banks suggest that 25% to 40% of businesses are in deep financial problems. According to the European Commission (EU), the economy will be very weak and will not grow in the first quarter of 2021 after not recovering at all in the fourth quarter of 2020 because of the pandemic.

There is also a big problem of rising non-performing loans once the recovery starts, Lacalle opines, due to the support given by government finishes as it happened during 2011 and 2012 in the European economy.

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