WEF report warns of Covid inequalities fueling social tensions

Protesters hold up a banner reading “Covid slave ticket” as they protest against the mandatory vaccination campaign against SARSCoV2, Belgium.

Thierry Monasse | Getty Images News | Getty Images

New research by the organizers of the annual meeting in Davos in the Swiss Alps warn of inequalities due to the Coronavirus Pandemic that could spark domestic and cross-border tensions around the world.

This year’s Global Risks Report from the World Economic Forum describes a “global divergence” – where poorer countries have much lower Covid-19 vaccination rates and therefore have longer-lasting economic problems.

“Covid-19 and its economic and societal consequences continue to pose a critical threat to the world. Vaccine inequality and the resulting uneven economic recovery risk exacerbating social rifts and geopolitical tensions,” the report said on Tuesday.

“The resulting global divergence will create tensions – within and across borders – that could exacerbate the cascading effects of the pandemic and complicate the coordination needed to address common challenges.”

Aside from the catastrophic death toll, one of the most immediate effects of the coronavirus pandemic has been the resulting increase in inequality, many economists said. They found that many people have faced job insecurity or were unable to attend online training due to bans.

Richer countries used to have access to Covid-19 vaccines and many are already giving their citizens their third or even fourth dose of the vaccine. Meanwhile, poorer countries are struggling to get their populations even a first dose.

In Ethiopia, only 1.3% of people are fully vaccinated against Covid. In Nigeria it is 2.1% according to Our World in Data. By comparison, 62% of Americans in the US are fully vaccinated. In the United Arab Emirates and Portugal, that number is around 90%.

“There are big worries about existential crises – that’s actually number two on this list, so big worries about jobs and what’s going on in the labor market,” said Saadia Zahidi, Executive Director of the World Economic Forum, about the result of the Global Risk Report.

Speaking to CNBC’s Julianna Tatelbaum, she added, ‚ÄúThere is this concern about mental crisis and it is eroding social cohesion. For example, there are 53 million new cases of depression, particularly due to Covid. “

Dark prospects

In the report, nearly 1,000 global experts and leaders from academia, business, civil society, government and other organizations said that societal risks “have deteriorated the most since the pandemic began.”

These specific risks included social cohesion and deterioration in mental health.

In addition, only 16% of respondents said they were positive and optimistic about the outlook for the world. In addition, only 11% said they believe the global recovery will accelerate.

The International Monetary Fund already estimated a global growth rate of 5.9% for 2021 and 4.9% for 2022. These projections were made before concerns about a new variant of Covid-19 known as Omicron arose.

Since then, the IMF has admitted that these numbers could be revised downwards because of new restrictions. However, the institution has stated that vaccinations will remain crucial to boost economic performance around the world.

“We screamed from the top of a mountain that [the] Pandemic is the greatest risk to the global economy. And we worked very hard to vaccinate the world. Progress is being made, not enough, “IMF executive director Kristalina Georgieva told CNBC in December.