Covid-19 pandemic could be source of global crises for years: WEF

Topics WEF | Coronavirus | Global economy

The WEF’s annual survey of global risks lists infectious disease and livelihood crises as the top “clear and present dangers” over the next two years.
The coronavirus has exposed the “catastrophic effects” of ignoring long-term risks such as pandemics, and the economic and political consequences could cause more crises for years to come, according to the World Economic Forum (WEF).


The WEF’s annual survey of global risks lists infectious disease and livelihood crises as the top “clear and present dangers” over the next two years. Knock-on effects such as asset bubbles and price instability lead concerns over 3-5 years.


The WEF said most countries struggled with crisis management during the pandemic, despite some remarkable examples of determination and cooperation. That highlights how leaders need to prepare better for whatever the next major shock turns out to be.


“The immediate human and economic cost of Covid-19 is severe,” the WEF said in the report. “The ramifications — in the form of social unrest, political fragmentation and geopolitical tensions — will shape the effectiveness of our responses to the other key threats of the next decade.” 


While the impact of the pandemic is dominant at the moment, other events will likely come to the fore, according to the survey. As in previous years, extreme weather is seen as the most-likely risk, just ahead of a failure on climate action. Infectious diseases make the top five for the first time in at least a decade.


Digital inequality and the concentration of digital power are also seen as major concerns, with WEF Managing Director Saadia Zahidi warning of a global “bifurcation in terms of growth and development.” “There are parts of the world that have digital access and inclusivity and that is where some parts of the workforce — not all — are able to continue, are able to adapt,” she told Bloomberg Television on Tuesday.


Germany discovers new variant in 35 patients


Germany has become the latest country to find a new mutation of the coronavirus, according to a news report by CNBC. The variant has been found in 35 patients at a hospital in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, a small town in Bavaria. The variant is unlike the one already found in the United Kingdom and South Africa, the report says. “We are not clear if the mutation would be of clinical relevance,” said Clemens Stockklausner, the hospital’s deputy medical director.


S Africa strain 50% more contagious


The new variant of coronavirus traced to South Africa is 50 per cent more contagious, experts said, but did not make the virus deadlier. Over 1.3 million people have been infected in the nation.


Now, children sign up for vaccine trials


Trials to make sure vaccines are safe for the young are beginning in earnest. Pfizer and Moderna started recruiting participants at the end of last year, and could have data by summer.

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