COVID-19 will continue to increase inequalities and vulnerability for at least five more years if a renewal of global cooperation does not happen, according to new analysis by the International Science Council (TSC).
The report Unprecedented & Unfinished: COVID-19 and Implications for National and Global Policy calls for the UN to establish a new Science Advice Mechanism to help curtail the impact of the pandemic and better coordinate across sectors and the UN system for future global emergencies.
The report considers three potential scenarios through 2027 primarily determined by the evolution of the virus, and the global uptake and coverage of effective vaccines. It says that the pandemic will lead to worsened inequalities in health, economics, development, science and technology, and society. COVID-19 will have become an endemic disease worldwide, and low-income states risk health system collapse and growing food insecurity. Mental health concerns will grow even further, the report mentioned.
In the report, the authors seek to support the shift in thinking that is required to achieve a more comprehensive worldview of pandemics and similar emergencies. It presents tools to map policy domains and scenarios and to observe interactions over approximately a five-year timeline, The lessons outline actions to be taken around an emergency such as a pandemic, both before and after, as well as beyond the sectors of health.
International Science Council President Peter Gluckmasaid, “We must not take a narrow view of the pandemic or minimize its impacts beyond public health, otherwise inequities will grow, and the broader consequences will be felt in every society in every country. To ensure a resilient and more equitable future, we must find ways that embolden effective international collaboration in addressing global threats. Additionally, the report aims to assist all governments in exploring appropriate responses in the broad interests of all their citizens and societies.”
Meanwhile, Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General for Disaster Risk Reduction Mami Mizutori said “The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated the value of international scientific cooperation, even in the face of cascading environmental risks and geopolitical tensions,”
“We must renew efforts to build a multilateral system that addresses inequalities while preparing us for the next crisis. Whether it be another pandemic, climate change, or conflict, we have the chance to learn from the last two years. If not, the Sustainable Development Goals will slip out of reach,” the representative said.
The report states that the Covid 19 impacts are interconnected. For instance education, which was badly hit by the pandemic, could have wider impacts until the end of the century, resulting in as much as $17 trillion in reduced earnings over the lifetime of an entire generation of students and aggravating growing concerns about mental health. Apart from this, it also says that economic impact has already been felt across the world. In 2020, more than eight per cent of working hours were lost, equivalent to 255 million full-time jobs. This has also contributed to a mental health crisis with a recent study covering 204 countries and territories, estimating that the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in an additional 53.2 millioncases of major depressive disorder and an additional 76.2 million cases of anxiety disorder globally.
- Global cooperation is essential as a core component of seeking remedies and ongoing protection Shortcomings in the current multilateral system need to be reformed both to continue to navigate the impact of COVID-19 and other potential risks related to climate change, geopolitical tensions food security, and more.
- The need for policy learning at the local, regional, national and international level must be increased. This includes sourcing multiple kinds of data and knowledge to learn what precipitated events and what went wrong, in order to develop better mechanisms to address future risks.