COVID-19 & Social Impact
AS the pandemic continues to disrupt life across the globe, it’s devastating social impact remains unprecedented. It has killed more than 1.5 million people with global novel coronavirus cases over 71.5 million. These are only recorded cases with actual cases much higher. With more than $18 trillion in the global stimulus package, IMF expects the losses to be $12 trillion or more for the world economy. Gates foundation 2020 Goalkeepers report estimates in terms of GDP, COVID-19 induced recession to be the worst since World War 2, a war that killed 3 percent of the world’s prewar population and the pandemic financial costs are twice as much as The Great Recession. Further, based on World Bank research, the pandemic will push an additional 72 million primary school-aged children into learning poverty i.e. they will not be able to read and understand a simple text by age 10. As COVID-19 cases race past 16 million in the US and 9.8 million in India, the top two countries respectively in total COVID-19 cases, few countries excelled in controlling the spread of the virus. Vietnam and New Zealand stood out with Vietnam registering less than 1500 cases, a remarkable feat for a country with approx. 96 million population. During this crisis, proliferation of digitalization within the economy helped many emerging economies to do an exceptional job in reaching out to ~ 1.1 billion people through direct cash transfers. India stood out with direct cash transfer to 200 million women quickly during the crisis. Based on a World Bank study, out of 720 million primary school children, 382 million of them are learning poor. Poor learning skills are one of the most significant barriers to eradicating poverty. In 2019, the World Bank and UNESCO Institute for Statistics introduced the concept of Learning Poverty.
COVID-19 social impact in the education sector is very depressing. It could increase an additional 72 to 454 million students into learning poverty. Income induced shocks to the economy are significant enablers of school deprivation significantly through school dropouts. The silver lining is finally COVID-19 vaccines have hit the market. The World Bank is mobilizing a holistic $12 billion in financing for emerging economies to purchase and distribute the vaccines, kits, and other accessories among the citizens. The next few months would be very critical as the mass-scale implementation of these vaccines rolls out globally to understand how safely and equitably the vaccine doses are delivered among civic societies with frontline workers and senior citizens taking a priority.