The relentless pace of death from the global Covid-19 pandemic is now being increasingly borne by the poorest places in the world.
More than 3 million lives have been lost as a result of the novel coronavirus that emerged in 2019, with the latest 1 million recorded deaths coming even faster than the first two. It took about 8.5 months after the initial fatality in China to mark the first million, and just another 3.5 months to reach the second million.
The grim milestone underscores a widening disparity in combating the pandemic, which parallels the gap in vaccine access. While mortality rates have largely slowed in the U.S. and parts of Europe thanks to vaccine rollouts that promise a return to some semblance of a normal life, the developing world is shouldering a rising death toll.
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is calling on nations to institute a wealth tax to help reduce global inequality exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic.
There has been a $5 trillion surge in the wealth of the world’s richest in the past year even as those at the bottom were made increasingly vulnerable, Guterres told a UN economic and social forum on Monday.
With the Covid-19 fallout causing government debt to swell, and hurting poorer people most, wealth taxes are being debated from California to the U.K.
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen called for speeding up the distribution of coronavirus vaccines in poorer nations, arguing the United States and global economies are threatened by the impact of covid-19 on the developing world.
While the United States and other rich countries are hoping for a return to normalcy as soon as this fall, many parts of the developing world are not on pace to have widespread vaccination of their populations until 2023 or 2024. Those countries have largely suffered more devastating economic impacts from Covid-19, in part because they do not have the fiscal capacity to authorize the levels of emergency spending approved in the United States.
In prepared remarks Monday to the Chicago Council on Global Affairs ahead of meetings this week of international finance officials, Yellen called on richer countries to step up both economic and public health assistance to poorer nations reeling from covid. She noted as many as 150 million people across the world risk falling into extreme poverty as a result of the crisis.
“This would be a profound economic tragedy for those countries, one we should care about. But, that’s obvious. What’s less obvious — but equally true — is that this divergence would also be a problem for America,” Yellen said. “Our first task must clearly be stopping the virus by ensuring that vaccinations, testing and therapeutics are available as widely as possible.”
[The Washington Post]