In its latest report, the World Economic Forum warned that unequal access to Covid-19 vaccinations is increasing the gap between the rich and the developing world. This could threaten the cooperation required to address common challenges, such as climate change.
“A greater prevalence of Covid-19 in low-vaccination countries than in high-vaccination ones will weigh on worker availability and productivity, disrupt supply chains and weaken consumption,” the 17th edition of the report, which surveys global experts, warned.
“Moreover, a lower post-pandemic risk appetite in the vaccinated world – comprised mostly of advanced economies – could weaken their investment in the non-vaccinated world,” it added.
According to the World Health Organisation, 98 countries have yet to vaccinate 40% of their population – a stark contrast with the situation in many Western countries, where vaccination rates hover around the 70-80% mark.
Rich countries were accused of hoarding vaccines. Only a fraction of the billions of vaccines produced last year ended up in the hands of people living in countries with the most fragile healthcare systems.
The WEF warned of the dangers of growing resentment between rich and poor nations, which would make it harder to reach international agreements on global issues like climate change, managing migration flows, and stopping cyberattacks.
The Swiss foundation behind Davos warned in its annual Global Risks Report that vaccine haves and have nots are increasingly on divergent paths.
The World Economic Forum’s Executive Opinion Survey (EOS) lists employment and livelihood crises, digital inequality, prolonged economic stagnation, extreme weather events and the debt crises in large economies as Namibia’s five biggest risks.
The survey of 124 economies revealed the top five risk factors. It was done between May 2021 and September 2021.
Over 12 000 leaders answered the following question: “What five risks will pose a critical threat to your country in the next two years?” They were asked to select these from a list of 35 risks in no particular order.
The climate crisis has replaced the pandemic as the greatest risk to the world. It accounts for five of the top ten risks to the world in the next ten years.
The report also highlighted the ongoing fallout from the pandemic, with the developing economies struggling to bounce back after successive lockdowns, while the rich emerge stronger.
“Failure to act on climate change could shrink global GDP by one-sixth,” Zurich Insurance Group’s chief risk officer Peter Giger said in the WEF note accompanying the report.
“The commitments taken at COP26 are still not enough to achieve the 1.5-degree goal.”
“By 2024, developing economies (excluding China) will have fallen 5.5% below their pre-pandemic expected GDP growth, while advanced economies will have surpassed it by 0.9% – widening the global income gap,” the survey predicted.
The WEF also emphasised the “societal scarring” caused by the pandemic, including in rich countries.
As protesters around Europe rally against the introduction of vaccine mandates, one of the top threats flagged up in 31 countries, including France and Germany, was the “erosion of social cohesion”.
– Additional reporting by AFP