Most Popular
1. Banking Crisis is Stocks Bull Market Buying Opportunity - Nadeem_Walayat
2.The Crypto Signal for the Precious Metals Market - P_Radomski_CFA
3. One Possible Outcome to a New World Order - Raymond_Matison
4.Nvidia Blow Off Top - Flying High like the Phoenix too Close to the Sun - Nadeem_Walayat
5. Apple AAPL Stock Trend and Earnings Analysis - Nadeem_Walayat
6.AI, Stocks, and Gold Stocks – Connected After All - P_Radomski_CFA
7.Stock Market CHEAT SHEET - - Nadeem_Walayat
8.US Debt Ceiling Crisis Smoke and Mirrors Circus - Nadeem_Walayat
9.Silver Price May Explode - Avi_Gilburt
10.More US Banks Could Collapse -- A Lot More- EWI
Last 7 days
Bitcoin Crypto Bubble Mania! - 4th Mar 2024
US Interest Rates - When WIll the Fed Pivot - 1st Mar 2024
S&P Stock Market Real Earnings Yield - 29th Feb 2024
US Unemployment is a Fake Statistic - 29th Feb 2024
U.S. financial market’s “Weimar phase” impact to your fiat and digital assets - 29th Feb 2024
What a Breakdown in Silver Mining Stocks! What an Opportunity! - 29th Feb 2024
Why AI will Soon become SA - Synthetic Intelligence - The Machine Learning Megatrend - 29th Feb 2024
Keep Calm and Carry on Buying Quantum AI Tech Stocks - 19th Feb 24
How to Profit from the Global Warming ClImate Change Mega Death Trend - Part1 - 17th Feb 24
Why Rising Shipping Costs Won't Cause Inflation - 17th Feb 24
Intensive 6 Week Stock Market Elliott Wave Training Course - 17th Feb 24
INFLATION and the Stock Market Trend - 17th Feb 24
GameStop (GME): 88% Shellacking Yet No Lesson Learned - 17th Feb 24
Nick Millican Explains Real Estate Investment in a Changing World - 17th Feb 24
US Stock Market Addicted to Deficit Spending - 7th Feb 24
Stocks Bull Market Commands It All For Now - 7th Feb 24
Financial Markets Narrative Nonsense - 7th Feb 24
Gold Price Long-Term Outlook Could Not Look Better - 7th Feb 24
Stock Market QE4EVER - 7th Feb 24
Learn How to Accumulate and Distribute (Trim) Stock Positions to Maximise Profits - Investing 101 - 5th Feb 24
US Exponential Budget Deficit - 5th Feb 24
Gold Tipping Points That Investors Shouldn’t Miss - 5th Feb 24
Banking Crisis Quietly Brewing - 5th Feb 24
Stock Market Major Market lows by Calendar Month - 4th Feb 24
Gold Price’s Rally is Normal, but Is It Really Bullish? - 4th Feb 24
More Problems in US Regional Banking System: Where There's Fire There's Smoke - 4th Feb 24
New Hints of US Election Year Market Interventions & Turmoil - 4th Feb 24
Watch Consumer Spending to Know When the Fed Will Cut Interest Rates - 4th Feb 24
STOCK MARKET DISCOUNTING EVENTS BIG PICTURE - 31st Jan 24
Blue Skies Ahead As Stock Market Is Expected To Continue Much Higher - 31st Jan 24
What the Stock Market "Fear Index" VIX May Be Signaling - 31st Jan 24
Stock Market Trend Forecast Review - 31st Jan 24

Market Oracle FREE Newsletter

How to Protect your Wealth by Investing in AI Tech Stocks

Vaccine inequality: A new beginning or another missed opportunity?

Politics / Coronavirus 2021 Feb 25, 2021 - 06:01 PM GMT

By: Dan_Steinbock

Politics

Last year, four major opportunities to battle COVID-19 were missed. If vaccine inequality will prevail in the coming months, that would represent the fifth missed opportunity – with prohibitive human costs and economic damage.

Recently, I was virtually at the prestigious Bruno Kreisky Forum for International Dialogue (Vienna, Austria) and had a conversation with Ambassador Irene Giner-Reichl (for the video, see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sUcGG22B_YA ). The focus was on the missed opportunities and the future of the global pandemic future.

Recently, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres sharply criticized the “wildly uneven and unfair” distribution of COVID-19 vaccines. Addressing the Security Council, Guterres noted that just 10 countries have administered 75% of all vaccinations. Meanwhile, 130 countries had not received a single dose.


In two reports – The Tragedy of Missed Opportunities (April 2020) and The Tragedy of More Missed Opportunities (August 2020) – I documented four missed opportunities in the mobilization against the global pandemic last year.

Without vaccination equity, the ongoing year could represent the fifth missed opportunity and even more challenging long-term prospects.

Failure of early mobilization (January 2020)

The first opportunity emerged around the first recorded case (Dec 30, 2019), and the WHO’s announcement of the international emergency (Jan 30, 2020). Then, the epicenter of the outbreak was still in Wuhan, Hubei.

After mid-January, China introduced social distancing and launched a historical quarantine, which soon began to flatten the curve. Mobilization was also initiated in Hong Kong, Singapore and regional proximity.

The Trump White House was informed about the virus on January 3, 2020, and the European CDC began its risk assessments only days later. But neither resulted in a phased mobilization.

United States had the institutions to battle the virus, but the Trump administration chose not to use them, presumably to “protect the economy and the markets.”

In Europe, many countries were willing to fight the virus, but lacked the common institutions needed for effective regional containment.

Ineffective and late mobilization (January-March 2020)

The second critical opportunity to contain the virus covers the 1st quarter of 2020. On March 10, the WHO declared it a pandemic. Although the epicenter had already moved to Europe and then to the U.S., full mobilization in both ensued only weeks after the pandemic warning - almost 3 months later than mobilization in proactive Asian locations.

Worse, until early February, most WHO members failed to provide WHO full country reports, which penalized international cooperation at a critical moment.

While complacency and inadequate preparedness contributed to shortages and challenges, sensational media coverage was high on hype, but short on facts. That caused an “infodemic” contributing in the West to anti-Chinese and anti-Asian hate crimes (which still prevail).

Even worse, many international observers began an odd battle against the WHO, its chief Dr Tedros and China in which effective containment was paving the way to the rebounding of the economy.

Failed mobilization (1st half of 2020)

In cumulative terms, the period of the third missed opportunity covers the first half of 2020. It could be dated from the WHO’s pandemic declaration, yet broader responses in the U.S. and Europe only began around late March and early April.

As escalation continued in Europe, the COVID-19 epicenter moved from the West Coast to the East Coast in the U.S. while quarantines and lockdowns diffused worldwide.

It was only now that the social distancing measures first initiated in China in January were more fully introduced in the West, but with widespread enforcement failures.

As late mobilization proved less effective, the epidemic curve was not flattened, but fattened; in many countries for weeks, in some for months. As a result, soaring cases began to foster increasing numbers of new mutations.

In countries where quarantines and restrictions were initially shunned, particularly the UK and Sweden, the number of cases and deaths soared alarmingly.

Furthermore, outbreaks spread to poorer economies, particularly across South America, India and the rest of South and Southeast Asia, with weaker healthcare systems. Though the diffusion of the pandemic started in the 1st quarter, the quarantine escalation followed in the 2nd quarter.

Meanwhile, massive economic damage spread rapidly around the world.

 Unwarranted and resource failures (year 2020)

In the course of the fourth missed opportunity, the outbreak epicenter stayed in or returned to the major advanced economies, particularly the United States and the Americas, several countries in Europe, and Japan.

In the US, the Trump administration’s politicized and grossly ineffective mobilization resulted in new waves already in the summer. In Europe, institutional failures led to such waves in the fall.

Many failures were unwarranted in the sense that public health policies based on science and international multilateral cooperation could have avoided much of the damage.

Although many poor countries tried to fight the outbreak, most lacked adequate resources. In due time, these public health failures in the developing economies are likely to have adverse feedback effects elsewhere.

More importantly, due to limited testing and inadequate data, a great number of cases and deaths continue to go undetected in many economies, particularly in the poorer ones. As a result, official estimates downplay the true pandemic damage.

Thanks to these four major failures, the human costs of the pandemic have soared from 7,800 cases over a year ago to some 112 million; and deaths from about 260 to 2.5 million (see Figure). Of course, the number of real cases – as opposed to confirmed ones – is likely to be significantly higher.

Figure          Human Costs of Four Missed Opportunities

Cumulative Confirmed Cases and Deaths

Source: WHO, WHO Europe, Difference Group

Vaccine inequality: Toward the fifth missed opportunity?

By early February, two months into the global rollout of coronavirus vaccines, 150 million doses of vaccines had been administered in fewer than 70 countries.

Early vaccine administration has favored only a few nations, which have hoarded 80% of the doses used so far. In contrast, 130 countries with 2.5 billion people have not administered a single dose.

The countries that have been favored the most in the early vaccine rollout have been mainly high-income economies, especially the G7 countries. The Biden administration is doing what it can to reverse the Trump administration’s policy mistakes, but more than a year have been missed.

Due to the gross failure of multilateral cooperation, the number of COVID-19 cases and deaths is now far, far higher than initially anticipated. At the same time, the huge spread of the global pandemic has ensured a rapidly-rising number of mutations.

In recent months, new variants of the original virus, which may be more contagious and damaging, have been spotted in the UK, Brazil, South Africa, and the US. Worse, a recombination of the variants detected in the UK and California may have caused a wave of cases in Los Angeles.

With more than 112 million infected people verifiably creating antibodies against the virus, still other versions are likely to emerge that could evade the immune system, reinfect even recovered persons and become more widespread.

The longer the crisis lingers, the greater remains the probability for potentially malignant outcomes – and, by the same token, for new pandemic waves, new restrictions and lockdowns, more economic damage, lost years, even lost decades.

Only decisive multilateral action across political differences – including WHO’s containment plan and UN’s global vaccination plan - can try to overcome still another failure of multilateralism that’s looming ahead.

It’s time to do the math: These plans could cost a few billion dollars, whereas pandemic relief spending, according to Bank of America, amounted to $20 trillion already last August. 

What on earth are we waiting for?

Dr. Dan Steinbock is the founder of Difference Group and has served at the India, China and America Institute (US), Shanghai Institute for International Studies (China) and the EU Center (Singapore). For more, see http://www.differencegroup.net/  

© 2021 Copyright Dan Steinbock - All Rights Reserved

Disclaimer: The above is a matter of opinion provided for general information purposes only and is not intended as investment advice. Information and analysis above are derived from sources and utilising methods believed to be reliable, but we cannot accept responsibility for any losses you may incur as a result of this analysis. Individuals should consult with their personal financial advisors.

Dan Steinbock Archive

© 2005-2022 http://www.MarketOracle.co.uk - The Market Oracle is a FREE Daily Financial Markets Analysis & Forecasting online publication.


Post Comment

Only logged in users are allowed to post comments. Register/ Log in