The United Nations (UN) has said the "exorbitant" impact of the COVID-19 pandemic led to the “destruction of income on an unprecedented scale”, with people in developing countries particularly hard hit.
According to the latest report by UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), the global economy is set to grow by 4.7 percent this year, thanks to a stronger-than-expected recovery in the United States.
In its previous forecast in September, the growth rate was set at 4.3 percent. The upwards revision factors in an expected boost in US consumer spending on the back of progress distributing COVID-19 vaccines and a vast stimulus package, the report said.
“The global recovery that began in the third quarter of 2020 is expected to continue through 2021, albeit with a good deal of unevenness and unpredictability, reflecting epidemiological, policy and coordination uncertainties,” the report said.
However, the 22-page UNCTAD report called ‘Out of the frying pan...into the fire?’ said COVID-19 will have lasting economic consequences that will require continued government support. It said the main risk to the global outlook is a “misguided return to austerity”.
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 estimates that in 2020, there was a 3.9 percent drop in output as the spread of the coronavirus sparked lockdowns across the world.
It added that it would have been worse had central banks not taken preemptive action to avoid a financial meltdown. Relief packages and a bounce-back in commodity prices as well as the fast-tracking of vaccine development also helped.(Inputs from Reuters)