DevelopmentAid Bi-weekly review of the coronavirus pandemic

By Sergiu Ipatii

 DevelopmentAid Bi-weekly review of the coronavirus pandemic

(August 21 – September 8, 2020)

A new daily record of the number of COVID-19 infections was recorded on September 4 with 304,606 people having been diagnosed with the virus in just 24 hours. To date, the coronavirus has taken the lives of almost 900,000 people meaning that 18.3 million patients out of a total 27.3 million have recovered from the disease. With such dismal daily statistics, the international development agenda has become dominated by concerns and calls to action in order to adjust to and minimize the devastating effects of the pandemic on both the global population and world economy. 

Global co-operation and co-ordination, in terms of preventing COVID-19 “vaccine nationalism”, has taken an important step forward with 172 economies having confirmed their engagement in discussions to potentially participate in the global initiative, COVAX Advanced Market Commitment. As previously reported, COVAX is a global initiative that aims to work directly with vaccine manufacturers to provide equitable access to safe and effective vaccines, once they are licensed and approved, to countries worldwide. According to a spokesperson, the initiative  currently has the world’s largest and most diverse COVID-19 vaccine portfolio which includes nine candidate vaccines with a further nine under evaluation.

As of August 31st,, the deadline for confirmation of intent to participate in the initiative, 80 higher-income economies which would finance the vaccines from their own public finance budgets have submitted Expressions of Interest. These countries will partner with 92 low- and middle-income countries that will be supported by the AMC if funding targets are met.

Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, who recently expressed interest in participation in COVAX said: “Today, the Commission is announcing a €400 million contribution to COVAX for working together in purchasing future vaccines for the benefit of low and middle income countries. I’m confident this will bring us closer to our goal: beating this virus, together.”

Fewer ‘Elevator pitches’ in the pandemic

Who will invest in the start-ups and venture capital projects that are the main pillars of innovation? Among many other issues, COVID-19 has raised concerns about progress by putting serious pressure on the long-term rise in worldwide innovation. According to the Global Innovation Index (GII) 2020, the pandemic will have a negative impact on certain sectors where innovation will slow down while it will catalyze ingenuity elsewhere, notably in the health sector.

One of the GII findings is that there is less and less money available to fund innovative ventures. Venture capital deals – one of the traditional sources of financing innovation – are in sharp decline across North America, Asia and Europe. At the same time, “the COVID-19 crisis has already catalyzed innovation in many new and traditional sectors, such as health, education, tourism and retail”, say the authors of the GII.

Losing $425 million a day

With regard to tourism, some industry highlights offered by the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) draw an even more pessimistic picture compared that of the innovation sector.

The collapse of international travel in 2020 has impacted the US economy causing losses amounting to $425 million a day, or nearly $3 billion a week.

The WTTC, which represents the global travel and tourism private sector, says the massive decline in the number of international travelers and tourists visiting the US due to the COVID-19 pandemic could result in international visitor spending dropping by a staggering 79%.

Across the Atlantic, the situation is not a great deal brighter: Italy loses €100 million a day to its economy because COVID has blocked travelers to the country.

Gloria Guevara, WTTC President & CEO, stated: “We must replace any stop-start quarantine measures with rapid, comprehensive and cost-effective test and trace programs at departure points across the country. This investment will be significantly less than the impact of blunt quarantines which have devastating and far-reaching socio-economic consequences. Targeted test and tracing will also rebuild the much-needed consumer confidence to travel. It will enable the restoration of vital ‘air corridors’ between countries and regions with similar COVID-19 case rates”.

WTTC experts highlight that, in the worst case scenario, over 29.5 million people in Europe may lose their jobs which are related to the travel and tourism sectors.

More poor women

There is growing concern that the pandemic will impact the global poverty rate. Some projections, however, show that women will be disproportionally affected in terms of poverty, especially women of reproductive age. According to new data released yesterday by UN Women and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), by 2021, for every 100 men aged 25 to 34 living in extreme poverty (living on US$1.90 a day or less), there will be 118 women, a gap that is expected to increase to 121 women per 100 men by 2030.

UN Women Executive Director, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, commented: “We know that women take most of the responsibility for caring for the family; they earn less, save less and hold much less secure jobs – in fact, overall, women’s employment is 19% more at risk than men’s. The evidence we have here of multiple inequalities is critical to drive swift, restorative policy action that puts women at the heart of pandemic recovery”.

Health is a human right

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General, has said: “The world must be ready when the next pandemic comes. Public health is the foundation of social, economic and political stability”.

On Monday, September 7, Dr. Tedros urged countries to invest more in public health as part of their efforts to recover from COVID-19. According to him, humanity is not currently  only fighting a virus, but fighting for “a healthier, safer, cleaner and more sustainable future”.

About COVID-2019

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that are common in many different species of animals including camels, cattle, cats and bats. Rarely, animal coronaviruses can infect people and then spread between them such as was the case with MERS (2012) and SARS (2003).The symptoms of the virus are very similar to those of a common cold – runny nose, headache, cough, sore throat, fever, a general feeling of being unwell. Blood tests are necessary in order to prove the presence of the virus in the organism.

Named by scientists as the “Wuhan seafood market pneumonia virus”,  COVID-19 is a coronavirus, like MERS and SARs, all of which have their origins in bats. Initial reports show that, in the early stages of the outbreak (early January 2020), many of those infected in Wuhan had some link to a large seafood and live animal market – the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market, mainly its western wing where wildlife animals are traded. This suggests that the virus initially affected an animal and subsequently spread to a person in a what a CDC has called “the species barrier jump”.