Covid pushed 31 mn more into extreme poverty in 2020: Study

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Covid pushed 31 mn more into extreme poverty in 2020: Study

Wednesday, 15 September 2021 | PNS | New Delhi

‘90% of advanced economies to regain pre-Covid per capita income by 2022’

As the Covid-19 pandemic-induced lockdowns wreaked havoc on the economy and livelihoods, an additional 31 million people were pushed into extreme poverty in 2020 compared to 2019, according to a report that highlighted stark disparities caused by the crisis worldwide.

The annual Goalkeepers Report, co-authored by Bill Gates and Melinda French Gates for their foundation, however, noted that while 90 per cent of advanced economies will regain pre-pandemic per capita income levels by next year, only a third of low and middle income economies are expected to do so. Hence, there is a need for investment in local partners to strengthen the capacity of researchers and manufacturers in lower-income countries to create the vaccines and medicines they need, the report said.

“(The past year) has reinforced our belief that progress is possible but not inevitable,” wrote the co-chairs. “If we can expand upon the best of what we’ve seen these past 18 months, we can finally put the pandemic behind us and once again accelerate progress in addressing fundamental issues like health, hunger, and climate change,” they wrote.

The Goalkeepers Report follows a similar study by Azim Premji University that talked about lockdown impact on India, saying that around 23 crore Indians have been pushed into poverty during the last one  year. It said the rural poverty rate increased by 15 percentage points and the urban poverty rate by 20 points in India.

The report co-authored by Bill Gates and Melinda French Gates also highlighted the disproportionate economic impact that the pandemic has had on women globally.

In high-and low-income countries alike, women have been harder hit than men by the global recession that was triggered by the pandemic.

“Women face structural barriers in every corner of the world, leaving them more vulnerable to the impacts of the pandemic,” said Melinda French Gates. An analysis by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) predicted a drop of 7 percentage points in global vaccine coverage, half from the prediction last year.

Further, stating that the so-called “miracle” of Covid-19 vaccines was the result of decades of investment, policies, and partnerships, the report also called against vaccine inequality.

“The lack of equitable access to Covid-19 vaccines is a public health tragedy,” said Bill Gates. “We face the very real risk that in the future, wealthy countries and communities will begin treating Covid-19 as yet another disease of poverty. We can’t put the pandemic behind us until everyone, regardless of where they live, has access to vaccines,” he added.

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