The $4 Trillion Economic Cost Of Not Vaccinating The Entire World

The $4 trillion economic cost of not vaccinating the entire world

 

The success of Brazil’s vaccine program will have a ripple effect on countries to which it exports commodities such as steel.

Rolling out a vaccine to stop the spread of a global pandemic doesn’t come cheap. Billions of dollars have been spent developing drugs and putting in place a program to get those drugs into people’s arms.

But amid an uneven distribution of vaccines – with poorer countries lagging far behind richer nations – another concern presents itself: the cost of not vaccinating everyone.

My colleagues and I sought to find out what the total hit to the global economy of uneven vaccination distribution might be.

To do so, we analyzed 35 industries – such as services and manufacturing – in 65 countries and examined how they were all linked economically in 2019, before the pandemic. For example, the construction sector in the U.S. relies on steel imported from Brazil, American auto manufacturers need glass and tires that come from countries in Asia, and so forth.

We then used data on COVID-19 infections for each country to demonstrate how the coronavirus crisis has disrupted global trade, curbing shipments of steel, glass and other exports to other countries. The more that a sector relies on people working in close proximity to produce goods, the more disruption there will be due to higher infections.

We then modeled how vaccinations could help to alleviate these economic costs, as a healthy and immune workforce is able to increase output.

Shouldering the burden

Our results showed that if wealthier nations are fully vaccinated by the middle of this year – a goal that many countries are striving for – yet developing countries manage to vaccinate only half of their populations, the global economic loss would amount to around US$4 trillion.

We estimated the global economic cost of developing countries not vaccinating any of their citizens to be around $9 trillion. Work is underway to increase the reach of vaccines to developing countries, but nonetheless, it is likely that poorer nations will still lag in total numbers vaccinated.

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Disclosure: This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license.

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