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Thu. July 07, 2022
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Are Western countries responsible for the severity of COVID-19 in LIDC’s?
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Disparities between Western countries and low-income and developing countries (LIDC’s) in terms of the COVID-19 response and vaccine access have shown that the international community needs to make a fundamental change to the prevailing rules and regulations on global public health and how it is protected. The vaccination rate per 100 people in Africa is less than 5, a stark difference from that of the US which currently boasts a vaccination rate of 84 out of 100 individuals. This can be directly attributed to the fact that wealthier countries were able to “pre-order” the vaccine, with the US buying up nearly double the necessary amount for its population. Similarly, the UK bought 4 times the necessary amount and Canada bought nearly 5 times more vaccines than they needed to vaccinate their entire population. Thus, the reason less developed countries have had such a difficult time recovering from the pandemic is because Western countries hoarded vaccines and abandoned their responsibilities as global powers to assist in the recovery of a worldwide crisis. This understanding is furthered by the Carnegie Council for Ethics and International Affairs, which posits that radical inequality is implicated by the institutional rules that give rise to it. With this approach, it becomes clear that an economic order and the inequality it produces is justified by comparing them to feasible alternative institutional schemes and the distribution of wealth internationally. Such conceptions are inconsistent with the prevailing notion on how economic institutions should be best shaped under modern conditions.

Due to the severity of COVID-19 in Latin America, the Caribbean, Southern Europe, and Southern Asia, 255 million people lost their jobs by the end of 2020. Latin America experienced its worst economic contraction in the region’s history, with the economy declining by nearly 7% since the onset of the pandemic. Furthering such decreases in economic advancement is the reduction in financing for emerging and developing economies, which fell by 42% in 2020. Although the World Bank is financing its largest investment project of $160 billion USD, the largest consequences of COVID-19 have already transpired. At the heart of these aid efforts is the quandary of trying to contain the spread of infections while avoiding worse harm in other areas.

Although these multilateral efforts are commendable, much more must be done regarding a post-COVID recovery for these regions. Mainly, efforts must be continued beyond a short-term projection. With the spread of new variants, institutions must engage in longer-term social and economic recovery policies to prevent drastic recessions, food scarcity, and social disorder. The responsibility is on international institutions as they are the overarching forces who wield such financial and legislative capabilities. International institutions must be called upon to:

  1. Uphold commitments and continue support of global health programs seeking to contain the spread of new COVID variants across territories
  2. Extend financial assistance to countries that lack the ability to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 in terms of food security and economic order
  3. Organize and advocate for a gendered response to the pandemic, including initiatives which support gender equality, sexual and reproductive healthcare, and diminish gender-based violence

The COVID-19 pandemic will only be overcome once its socio-economic consequences are mitigated everywhere, meaning drastic actions must be taken by rich countries and international institutions to prevent economic recessions worldwide. Institutions were eager to provide aid in the beginning of the pandemic, but slowly reverted to the status-quo as its impact continued to reverberate worldwide. Furthermore, even with millions in support from the World Bank and IMF, organizations must continue to provide financial backing to support longer-term economic programs for a sustainable recovery.

Aaron Mancus is currently finishing his undergraduate degree in International Affairs at George Washington University.  While writing this article he took from his professional experience in cybersecurity and data analytics.

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