half of Europe in danger; Variant to leave “Permanent scar on development”

The World Bank said on Tuesday that global economic growth would be hampered due to the rapid spread of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus. Covid-19 cases are increasing rapidly in major regions of the planet due to the Omicron variant leading to labor shortages and supply chain disruptions.

The World Bank has also cut its forecast for global economic growth for 2022 to 4.1% after rebounding 5.5% in 2021. The forecast was published in the Washington-based lender’s latest Global Economic Prospects report.

“Various downside risks cloud the outlook, including simultaneous economic disruption from Omicron, further supply bottlenecks (and) a de-anchoring of inflation expectations,” the World Bank report noted. World Bank President David Malpass has said the pandemic will leave a permanent scar on development.

“We are seeing disturbing reversals in poverty, nutrition and health. Reversal and education or the scope of school closures will have a permanent impact. I am very worried about the permanent scar on the development, ”said Malpass, quoted by AFP.

The World Economic Forum stressed that declining immunization rates in low-income countries could also exacerbate economic hardships stemming from the pandemic and urged closing the widening gap.

Europe in danger

The World Health Organization (WHO) has warned that half of Europe’s population will be infected due to the Omicron variant of the coronavirus. The WHO remarks came shortly after the World Bank warned that the global economy could “decelerate” due to Covid-19.

The regional director of the world health body for Europe, Hans Kluge, told AFP that a “west-to-east tidal wave” of infections was sweeping Europe. “The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) predicts that more than 50% of the population in Europe will be infected with Omicron within the next six to eight weeks,” Kluge said.

He pointed out that out of 53 countries in the European region, 50 of them have increasing cases due to the Omicron variant.

The WHO has also said repeating the boosters cannot be part of the strategy to tackle the spread of Covid-19 across the planet. “A vaccination strategy based on repeated booster doses of the original vaccine composition is unlikely to be appropriate or sustainable,” the WHO said in a statement.

The European Union’s medical body, the European Medicines Agency (EMA), however, has said that Omicron could push Covid to become an endemic disease that people have to learn to live with.

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Mary I. Bruner