Covid-19 vaccine nationalism may cost global economy up to $1.2 trillion a year: Study

Prashasti Awasthi Mumbai | Updated on October 29, 2020

The Oxford vaccine is being developed in collaboration with AstraZeneca   -  THE HINDU

Countries pedalling ‘vaccine nationalism’ will likely hoard vaccines by striking a deal directly with pharma companies, the study says

According to a new study by non-profit organisation RAND Europe, the nationalistic approach of some governments may hinder other countries’ access to Covid-19 vaccines.

This hindrance could cost the global economy up to $1.2 trillion a year in gross domestic product (GDP).

The report stated that countries pedalling vaccine nationalism will likely hoard vaccines by striking a deal directly with pharmaceutical companies. This would result in these countries incurring economic penalties for themselves as well as the wider global population.

The study’s macroeconomic analysis reveals that as long as every country in the world is virus-free, the economic cost associated with the virus will be borne by the whole world.

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The study noted that even if only the lowest-income countries were denied equal access to a vaccine and all other countries managed to immunise their populations against the virus, it could still cost the global economy $153 billion a year in GDP terms.

The US would lose $16 billion a year, the EU $40 billion a year, the UK $5 billion a year, China $14 billion a year, and other high-income countries collectively $39 billion a year.

Lead author Marco Hafner, senior economist at RAND Europe, said: “The study shows that a globally coordinated multilateral effort to fight the pandemic is key, not only from a public health perspective but also an economic one.”

He added: “If too many countries follow a ‘vaccine nationalism’ approach regarding the development, production, and distribution of Covid-19 vaccines, it could seriously hurt globally equitable access for those most at risk.”

“Our findings suggest that there are real economic incentives for the higher income countries to drive vaccine development and distribution to ensure that the rest of the world has access to vaccines as soon as possible,” he noted.

The study also analysed the economic repercussions if no vaccine was developed. According to the analysis, the global economic cost associated with Covid-19 could be $3.4 trillion a year in lost GDP.

Hafner said: “Given the substantial economic loss caused by Covid-19, investing heavily in the research and development and upscaling of vaccine manufacturing is key to finding a way out of the pandemic.”

The study was published in the journal EurekAlert!

Published on October 29, 2020

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