World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus speaks at a press conference on December 20, 2021 at WHO headquarters in Geneva.
Fabrice Coffrini | AFP | Getty Images
The World Health Organization on Thursday warned that the uneven distribution of vaccines around the world has fueled new Covid variants like omicron that threaten the global economic recovery.
“Inequalities in vaccines are killing people and jobs, and they are undermining the global economic recovery,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said during a message from the group’s headquarters in Geneva.
Tedros said the failure of world leaders to work together to increase vaccination coverage in poorer countries with less developed health systems was one of the biggest setbacks of 2021. Low vaccination coverage in many countries has been a major driver of options such as delta and omicron, Tedros said. Delta was first discovered in India in late 2020, and omicron was first discovered by health officials in southern Africa in November.
WHO has set a goal to vaccinate 40% of the population in every country in the world by the end of 2021. However, according to the organization, 92 countries have not achieved this, despite the spread of 9 billion vaccinations worldwide.
WHO has set a goal to vaccinate 70% of the population in all countries of the world by the middle of this year.
“World leaders who have shown such determination to protect their populations will spread that determination to ensure the safety and security of the entire world,” Tedros said. “And this pandemic won’t end until we do it.”
The International Monetary Fund is expected to downgrade its global growth outlook on the emergence of the omicron option. The IMF has postponed the release of its World Economic Outlook until the end of January to accommodate the omicron’s impact.
“The new option, which could spread very quickly, could undermine confidence, and in that sense, we are likely to see some decline in our October global growth forecasts,” IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva told Reuters during a virtual conference last month.
The IMF forecast in October that the global economy will grow by 5.9% in 2021 and by 4.9% in 2022. At the time, the organization warned that the emergence of new options created increased uncertainty.
The IMF predicted that the pandemic could shrink global gross domestic product by $ 5.3 trillion over the next five years, compared with current estimates. He called on world leaders to do more to increase vaccination coverage in low-income countries.
Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said last month that the omicron poses a risk to US economic growth, but he noted that there is much unknown about how the option will affect public health and the economy.
Powell said Omicron’s influence will depend on how much he suppresses demand. The Fed chairman said it was unclear how this option would affect inflation, hiring and economic growth.
“The more people get vaccinated, the less economic impact there will be,” Powell said at a press conference after the Fed meeting in December. “This does not mean that it will not have an economic effect,” he said.
Powell said the delta option slowed hiring and wreaked havoc on global supply chains during the fall wave of contamination.
Bank of England chief economist Hugh Pill told CNBC last month that the omicron posed a “two-way” risk.
“Omicron has brought a new level of uncertainty to our assessment of the broader economy, inflation forecasts and labor market developments,” Pill said in Street Signs in Europe.