Health and economic trade-offs to continue, despite vaccine

COUNTRIES around the world will continue to experience health and economic trade-offs for at least another two years, even if the COVID-19 vaccine is discovered, said World Bank’s Development, Policy and Partnerships managing director Mari Pangestu. 

This means that countries would still have to carry on doing the triple ‘Ts’ (testing, tracing and treatment) while obtaining good data to ensure effective monitoring its people and reducing the risks of any second or third waves of the outbreak. 

“Without being able to address that, you cannot safely open up schools, businesses, travel borders and so on. So it has to be done within these protocols. I think the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) can play a big role in that, for example like the APEC business card, which has been proven to be a success among business people.

“So, when we get the vaccines, it will be like the ‘yellow card’ to know that you have been vaccinated, and only then can we start operating safely, do trading safely and work safely,” she said in a spotlight session titled “Asia Pacific’s Time” at the virtual APEC CEO Dialogues 2020 today. 

On the other hand, Mari said, even when the vaccine has been successfully created, it would likely reach the developed countries first, and developing countries have to make sure they too will have a fair and equitable access while also ensuring the relief and recovery of the economy takes place. 

She said while there is a new normal of working from home, there will also be the new poor and vulnerable in the M40 and B40 income groups as the world falls into a state of deep recession.

This, she said, will mainly affect women who are not able to find jobs and children who do not have access to electricity, what more education or even online education. 

“While there are more sets of issues to address, the government will become the saviour or the last resort, whether for the livelihood, firms or the economy. It is a huge task and governments will fall into debts, even for the best managed government.

“So it is important for governments to control the trajectory of the spread and don’t just put all hope into the vaccine because it will take a long time to access as well as get vaccinated.

“Take the opportunity to improve your system so that if there is a third or fourth wave of COVID-19 or even a new virus, you will already have a system that is resilient for the future,” Mari added. – Nov 19, 2020

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