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Economists Joseph Stiglitz and Michael Spence, both winners of the Nobel Prize, are issuing calls for urgent action to help poorer countries face the costs of dealing with the coronavirus pandemic and recover from the economic ravages it leaves in its trail.
Nobel Prize-winning economists Joseph Stiglitz and Michael Spence are at the forefront of calls worldwide for urgent action to help poorer countries recover from the economic ravages of the coronavirus pandemic. Measures that need implementation include advancing vaccine equity, debt relief, and bolstering fiscal resources for cash-strapped nations.
The proposals were outlined in a new interim report issued on the first anniversary of the global pandemic – by the Institute for New Economic Thinking’s Commission on Global Economic Transformation, co-chaired by Stiglitz and Spence.
“Extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures,” Spence said in the report. “Failing bold action, developing countries could be on track to lose years or even decades of progress in the post-pandemic world.”
Given the global economy's interconnection, the report urges nations to suspend or modify intellectual property protections for COVID-19 jabs, treatments, tests, and products to accelerate vaccine production and get more people inoculated sooner – including in rich countries- and stay ahead of mutations.
The U.S. won't be free of Covid-19 until the world is. I had a good talk with Amy Goodman of @democracynow about the need to get the vaccine to the developing world. https://t.co/tZmPh1qRnY
“In the developing world, many of them are not scheduled to get the vaccines for years to come unless we change what’s going on,” Stiglitz told reporters during a virtual press conference to launch the report.
“The world is not going to be safe from the pandemic itself until the pandemic is controlled everywhere in the world, so in that sense, it’s even in our own self-interest that there be a rapid dissemination of the vaccines and the other medicines, the mass tests that help control the pandemic,” he added.
Developed nations at the World Trade Organization are trying to block efforts by other countries to waive intellectual property protections for COVID-19 vaccines temporarily. They argue it would hamper the development and distribution of vaccines and treatments for future pandemics.
On the other hand, the report notes that big pharmaceutical firms have ripped huge benefits from massive government support to research and develop COVID-19 vaccines, and in some cases, had nearly all of their research and development costs covered by taxpayer funds.
Jayati Ghosh, a member of the Commission on Global Economic Transformation and a professor of economics at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, told reporters during the press conference that “rich countries have basically booked about 85 percent of global supply for 2021".
“Some countries have booked several multiples of their populations for the vaccines, between four to 10 times the number that they would actually need, and this means the developing countries have been not just excluded, but they’re unlikely to get vaccines, sometimes, in some cases, until 2023-24,” she added.
The report highlights the stark disparities between nations in the amount of financial investments per capita. Developed countries are expected to have increased $9,836 per person in stimulus spending compared to $17 per person by the least developed countries, according to International Monetary Fund (IMF) estimates from January.
Some 120 low-income countries collectively owe $3.1 trillion of external debt – a burden that is shackling poorer nations by holding back their ability to spend, said the report, including those whose debt repayments were manageable before the pandemic.
#FromTheSouth News Bits | Brazil's Black Coalition for Rights, which includes over 200 organizations, denounced that COVID-19 vaccines have only benefited the country's privileged sectors, and demanded emergency financial aid to alleviate the poverty faced by Black communities. pic.twitter.com/YwIUQz3Iv3