The uneven sharing of COVID-19 vaccines between rich and poor countries is just one symptom of the many problems the world was already facing before the crisis and which it will need to find solutions to, experts warn .

The long-term economic sequelae of the pandemic threaten to be much more serious in the south than in the north, noted on Wednesday Chief Economist of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Gita Gopinath, during an expert panel organized by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and in which renowned economists participated.

Victims of “extreme vaccine nationalism” on the part of the rich countries, which monopolized 50% of the available doses for only 16% of the world population, the developing countries now seem doomed to suffer an average loss of growth three times more high (–6% per year) by 2025 than in industrialized countries (–2%), lamented the economist. To measure the scale of the phenomenon, she said, one need only look at the “tsunami” of COVID-19 cases which is ravaging India and which “is only a glimpse of what who is waiting, the next three, six or nine months, the parts of the world where vaccines have a hard time getting ”.

This failure “will come back to haunt us”, predicted for his part well-known Harvard University economist Kenneth Rogoff. As the last financial crisis fueled a popular grudge against international finance, the Western economic model and the governments that saved them with billions to then pass the bill on to their populations in the form of austerity policies, this lack of vision and solidarity on the part of rich countries will not be forgotten by developing countries, he said.

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” It’s a fail. We all know, however, that the pandemic will not be over until it is over everywhere on the planet, ”insisted former Governor of the Bank of England and the Bank of Canada, Mark Carney. This misplaced nationalism is nothing new, he stressed, however. It is part of the heavy baggage of problems with which our world entered the crisis, alongside the slowness in dealing with climate change, the rise in inequalities, the slowdown in the growth of developed economies and even debt. public left by the last financial crisis. We can only hope now that we will be able to seize the opportunity offered by the necessary economic recovery plans to understand the links between all these issues and to tackle them more seriously.

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” Fortunate “

The columnist at New York Times and Nobel Prize in Economics Paul Krugman, doubts that the public authorities have really learned the lessons of the current crisis, although he admits that they have so far shown themselves to be much less timid in their aid program and in their recovery plans. “We were lucky. The fact that we are grappling with a health crisis made them feel compelled to be much more active. And then, in the United States, “it would have taken a few thousand voters in just a few states to end up with completely different policies today.”

Governments will not be able to just loosen their purse strings or invest in green or technological infrastructure to make a big difference, argued the world summit in innovation economics Mariana Mazzucato. As more than 50 years of history have shown, the best way for them to achieve beneficial results for the economy and the greatest number is to take a further step by accompanying their policies with precise and explicit targets. while then leaving the maximum possible freedom to the creativity of market players.

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Good technology policies will be important because it seems certain that the crisis will have an accelerating effect on the adoption of digital technologies and that all great technological revolutions always have winners and losers, observed Mark Carney. They will be all the more important, added Mariana Mazzucato, as the digital giants have had the unfortunate tendency, in recent years, not to reinvest their profits in more innovation, but rather to pour it into the pocket of their shareholders.

Not so difficult choices

You don’t have to be a great expert or show extraordinary courage to embark on a lasting economic recovery and tackle the most pressing problems we face, summed up Paul Krugman. “The way forward is relatively straightforward and several solutions would cost next to nothing. Even better cooperation with developing countries on sharing COVID-19 vaccines would be to our advantage. […] What is difficult is the political aspect. It is not knowing what to do, it is finding elected officials ready to explain and defend these measures in front of populations who, in some cases, already think that changes are necessary. “

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