Bridging the vaccine divide will boost the global economy and save lives | American Enterprise Institute

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By Steven B. Kamin and John Kearns

The most urgent challenge facing the world today is bridging the COVID-19 vaccine divide. As of this writing, 45 percent of the residents of the world’s richest economies have received at least one dose of the vaccine.And in a handful of countries, the United States included, the share rises to more than half. As a result, COVID-19 cases and deaths are plummeting. But in the emerging market and developing world, which accounts for 86 percent of the world’s population, less than 20 percent of people have been even partially vaccinated. The pandemic continues to rage in countries such as Brazil and India, and it is popping up anew in places that had appeared to have the virus under control, such as Thailand and Malaysia.

The Biden administration’s decision last week to provide at least 80 million vaccine doses abroad by the end of June, as well as the proposal advanced by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and other multilateral organizations to accelerate vaccinations and other pandemic control measures, speak to the weight placed on this issue by the world’s top policymakers. The need to support the global vaccination effort undoubtedly will also be addressed at the G7 meeting hosted by the United Kingdom this week.  

While the most important goal of this effort must be to save lives – in this case, measuring into the hundreds of thousands and possibly millions – bridging the vaccine divide is also critical to restoring a prosperous global economy. Suppressing the pandemic allows reductions in the social distancing and lockdown restrictions that have constrained economic activity…

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