Millions of people in South Asia are being pushed into extreme poverty as the region where a quarter of humanity lives suffers its worst-ever recession due to the devastating impact of the coronavirus pandemic, the World Bank said on Thursday.
The multi-lateral lender forecast a record economic contraction of 7.7 percent for South Asia this year, and said workers in the informal sector were being hit hardest, and private consumption was unlikely to recover quickly from the blow.
"The impact on livelihoods will even be larger than the GDP forecast suggests...This implies that the region will experience a sharp increase in the poverty rate," the bank said in its bi-annual report.
India, the region's biggest economy, is likely to see its economy contract by 9.5 percent this year, the report said.
Frequently Asked Questions
A vaccine works by mimicking a natural infection. A vaccine not only induces immune response to protect people from any future COVID-19 infection, but also helps quickly build herd immunity to put an end to the pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. The good news is that SARS-CoV-2 virus has been fairly stable, which increases the viability of a vaccine.
There are broadly four types of vaccine — one, a vaccine based on the whole virus (this could be either inactivated, or an attenuated [weakened] virus vaccine); two, a non-replicating viral vector vaccine that uses a benign virus as vector that carries the antigen of SARS-CoV; three, nucleic-acid vaccines that have genetic material like DNA and RNA of antigens like spike protein given to a person, helping human cells decode genetic material and produce the vaccine; and four, protein subunit vaccine wherein the recombinant proteins of SARS-COV-2 along with an adjuvant (booster) is given as a vaccine.
Vaccine development is a long, complex process. Unlike drugs that are given to people with a diseased, vaccines are given to healthy people and also vulnerable sections such as children, pregnant women and the elderly. So rigorous tests are compulsory. History says that the fastest time it took to develop a vaccine is five years, but it usually takes double or sometimes triple that time.
The report warned that South Asia's economies could end up worse than the forecast as the pandemic continues to surge, making foreign investors more wary, limiting governments' ability to increase spending and putting more strain on banking systems already heavily burdened with bad loans.
With 6.84 million people infected, including 105,000 dead, India's COVID-19 caseload is second only to the United States, despite the country going under the strictest lockdown in the initial phase of the pandemic in March.
Pakistan and Bangladesh have recorded over 317,000 cases each, while the rest of the countries in the region have combined total of over 149,000 cases.