Economists believe that the rise in Covid-19 cases has to be flattened, and it has to be done through non-pharmaceutical interventions if emerging and developing economies do not have immediate access to vaccines. However, uncertainty about the virus outbreak and variants require both vaccinations and robust policy planning.

Markus Brunnermeier

Markus Brunnermeier, economist and Edwards S Sanford professor of economics at the Princeton University, shared Vijay Acharya’s lecture on Covid-19 lessons from India for other emerging economies. Acharya, who is the C.V. Starr professor of economics in the Department of Finance at New York University Stern School of Business (NYU-Stern) and an academic advisor to the Federal Reserve Banks of New York and Philadelphia, states that India was one of the worst affected countries, with an estimation of at least 12-18 million fatalities during the second wave of coronavirus infections.

He stated that healthcare officials found the healthcare system to be overflowing during the second wave of the virus crisis. During the first Covid wave in India, approximately 6% of active cases required oxygen and intensive care unit assistance. Whilst in the second wave, 18% of hospitalisations were requiring it on a daily basis. According to UK evidence, the Delta variant is expected to be twice transmissible.

A key problem he mentions is that reported cases understate true infections. This partly reflected the thoroughness of testing, and also capacity constraints on testing. The solution adopted was to estimate daily cases using seroprevalence surveys or antibodies prevalence.

Linda Yueh

Linda Yueh, economist and an adjunct professor of economics at the London Business School, shared an article on UK jobs recovery to falter until the end of 2023 as furlough ends this year. According to an Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) analysis, a rise in employment in recent months will go into reverse over the next six months before it regains momentum in 2022 and returns to pre-pandemic March 2020 level of 75.5%.

Many businesses are struggling to fill job vacancies and have called on ministers to tackle the shortage of skilled workers. Meanwhile, the OECD has stated that ending the furlough scheme in September this year will force many businesses hit by pandemic-related restrictions to implement redundancies.

Data further suggests that PAYE employment is more than 550,000 below pre-pandemic levels, with hundreds of workers having reduced their hours and many self-employed people having lost their work between the start of the pandemic and now.

Jayson Lusk

Jayson Lusk, an economist, professor and department head in the department of agricultural economics at Purdue University, shared an article on a consumer food buying Covid-19-induced recession. The pandemic disrupted food supply chains and altered consumer behaviour, with the impact still persisting in the food service and restaurant sectors.

Comparing the pandemic to the Great Recession, economists suggest that both led to income loss and unemployment.

Preliminary research finds virtually no change in food insecurity in the US, while other studies indicate food insecurity has increased by 12 percentage points. However, all results pointed at households with children being disproportionately impacted from higher rates of food insecurity.

Research also finds that while Covid-19 led to the rapid overall food price inflation at grocery stores, there were opportunities for consumers to economise. Moreover, the aggregate shift in time availability during Covid-19 may have also helped keep food price inflation lower.