WEF report warns of heightened social tensions over Covid-19 inequality

Demonstrators hold banners that read “Covid Slave Vote” to protest Belgium’s mandatory vaccination campaign against SARSCoV2.

Thierry Monas | Getty Images News | Getty Images

New research from organizers of the annual Davos conference in the Swiss Alps warns that coronavirus The pandemic could exacerbate domestic and cross-border tensions around the world.

The World Economic Forum’s Global Risks report this year described a “global divide” – poorer countries have far lower Covid-19 vaccination rates and therefore face longer-term economic problems.

“Covid-19 and its economic and social consequences continue to pose a serious threat to the world. Vaccine inequalities and the resulting uneven economic recovery could exacerbate social divisions and geopolitical tensions,” the World Economic Forum said in a report released on Tuesday. .

“The resulting global divisions will create tensions both inside and outside borders, potentially exacerbating the cascading effects of the pandemic and complicating the coordination needed to address shared challenges.”

Aside from the catastrophic death toll, one of the most immediate effects of the coronavirus pandemic has been a consequent increase in inequality, many economists said. They noted that many faced job insecurity or were unable to participate in online education due to the lockdown.

Wealthier countries got their Covid-19 vaccine earlier, and many are already getting their citizens a third or even a fourth dose. Meanwhile, poorer countries are struggling to get their populations the first dose of a vaccine.

In Ethiopia, only 1.3% of people are fully vaccinated against Covid-19. According to our data world, in Nigeria, the figure is 2.1%. In the U.S., by contrast, 62 percent of Americans are fully vaccinated. In the United Arab Emirates and Portugal, the figure is around 90 percent.

Commenting on the outcome of the global economic crisis, Sadia Zahidi, managing director of the World Economic Forum, said: “There is a major concern about the livelihood crisis – it’s actually number two on this list, so there’s a lot of focus on jobs. and what’s happening in the labor market.” Risk Report.

In an interview with CNBC’s Julianna Tatelbaum, she added: “The erosion of social cohesion is fueled by concerns about a mental health crisis, for example, with 53 million new cases of depression, especially due to Covid.”

gloomy outlook

In the report, nearly 1,000 global experts and leaders from academia, business, civil society, government and other organisations said social risks had “worst worsened since the start of the pandemic”.

These specific risks include deteriorating social cohesion and mental health.

In addition, only 16% of respondents said they were optimistic and optimistic about the outlook for the world. Additionally, only 11% said they believed the global recovery would accelerate.

The International Monetary Fund estimated as early as October global growth rate 5.9% in 2021 and 4.9% in 2022. These forecasts were made before fears of a new variant of Covid-19, known as omicron, emerged.

Since then, the International Monetary Fund has recognized These figures may be revised down because of the new restrictions. However, the agency said vaccinations remained critical to improving economic performance around the world.

“We’ve been screaming at the top of the mountain, [the] The epidemic is the biggest risk facing the global economy. We have been a strong advocate for vaccinating the world. There has been progress, but not enough,” IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva told CNBC in December.