Washington, Sep 14 (IANS): Covid-19 pushed an additional 31 million people into extreme poverty in 2020 compared to 2019, according to a report that highlighted stark disparities caused by the pandemic worldwide.
The annual Goalkeepers Report, co-authored by Bill Gates and Melinda French Gates as part of their foundation, illustrates the pandemic's adverse impact on progress toward the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
The report shows that people hit hardest by the pandemic will be the slowest to recover.
And while 90 per cent of advanced economies will regain pre-pandemic per capita income levels by next year, only a third of low- and middle-income economies are expected to do so.
"(The past year) has reinforced our belief that progress is possible but not inevitable," write the co-chairs.
"If we can expand upon the best of what we've seen these past 18 months, we can finally put the pandemic behind us and once again accelerate progress in addressing fundamental issues like health, hunger, and climate change," they wrote.
The report also highlighted the disproportionate economic impact that the pandemic has had on women globally.
In high- and low-income countries alike, women have been harder hit than men by the global recession that was triggered by the pandemic.
"Women face structural barriers in every corner of the world, leaving them more vulnerable to the impacts of the pandemic," said Melinda French Gates.
An analysis by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) predicted a drop of 7 percentage points in global vaccine coverage, half from the prediction last year.
Further, stating that the so-called "miracle" of Covid-19 vaccines was the result of decades of investment, policies, and partnerships, the report also called against vaccine inequality.
"The lack of equitable access to Covid-19 vaccines is a public health tragedy," said Bill Gates.
"We face the very real risk that in the future, wealthy countries and communities will begin treating Covid-19 as yet another disease of poverty. We can't put the pandemic behind us until everyone, regardless of where they live, has access to vaccines," he added.
The report also called for investment in local partners to strengthen the capacity of researchers and manufacturers in lower-income countries to create the vaccines and medicines they need.