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Implementing the Covid-19 vaccine would boost the global economy next year



Getting a vaccine to help contain the novel coronavirus would provide a big boost to the global economy in 2021, but the initial geographic distribution of that benefit will likely depend on which vaccine candidate works first.

Public health officials around the world increasingly believe that at least one of the vaccines will now become usable in later stages of testing. They say it is possible that one or more will be available to a small number of vulnerable people by the end of this year, spreading to more than the population in 2021. And economists are increasingly taking this implementation into account in their forecasts.

A group of researchers affiliated with the Center for Global Development estimates that there is a 50% chance that a vaccine that is safe and effective enough to be approved by a strict regulator will be available by April 2021

, with an 85% chance of that happening by April 2021. end. of the year. However, production challenges mean that sufficient doses to cover the world’s population are unlikely to be available before September 2023.

However, effective vaccines are unlikely to be available anywhere at the same time. In the rush to develop a vaccine, several governments have helped fund research and development and have committed to early delivery of a set number of doses. No one has secured access to all the favorites and the initial economic impact will depend on who crosses the threshold first.

This means that some countries and regions are in a better position than others to initially make money from specific vaccines. Rich countries with the money to spend on deals with a number of vaccine developers, even knowing that some may fail, are set to receive a bigger boost than most developing economies, which are likely to have access to vaccines. effective later.

According to the World Health Organization, there are 170 candidate vaccines under development, of which 26 are tested in humans. Eight of these are nearing completion of the final phase of testing, with some likely to become usable in 2021.

According to analysts at Deutsche Bank, the candidate with the widest potential distribution is being developed at the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom in collaboration with the pharmaceutical manufacturer

AstraZeneca

PLC.

“The Oxford / AstraZeneca vaccine is the consensus favorite, with most governments around the world securing significant quantities,” Deutsche Bank analysts wrote in a note to clients. “If implemented successfully, its benefits would be distributed fairly symmetrically across regions.”

Other vaccines would likely have a more geographically limited impact, at least initially. Although the UK has signed deals with the largest number of vaccine developers, it has not

Modern Inc.

If that company were successful, North America would likely have an edge. The same is true to a lesser extent for a vaccine developed by

Pfizer Inc.

and German partner

BioNTech SE,

although that partnership also has agreements with a number of European governments.

There are other candidates who could leave the United States on the sidelines. China hosts half of the eight candidates in the final tests, and their success would be more beneficial to the world’s second largest economy and a number of developing economies than to the United States and Europe. If Chinese firm Sinovac Biotech SVA.O were successful, for example, it would be particularly good news for the Indonesian economy, as the government has placed most of its trust in that candidate.

Widespread vaccination is the key to the global economy’s return to more normal business patterns. It should be a particular advantage for activities that require close physical proximity, such as public transport, live entertainment, and restaurants. In addition, it would allow many workers to return to office buildings, reviving cities appeased by the pandemic.

The International Monetary Fund has warned that unequal access to vaccines will hold back the global economic recovery and indeed slow it even for those countries with access to successful vaccines. This is a view shared by other international bodies.

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“Vaccine nationalism will only perpetuate the disease and prolong the global recovery,” said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO director general.

This does not mean that those countries that are not the first to launch successful vaccines will be completely bypassed by the economic recovery. The mere prospect of a vaccine finally becoming available is likely to boost business and consumer confidence, particularly in sectors such as tourism.

The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development assumes that a vaccine will only be available for large-scale dissemination at the end of next year. Against this backdrop, the global economy is expected to grow by 5% in 2021, following a contraction of 4.5% this year. But if the “there were signs” deployment were set to be faster, the research body estimates that the global economy could grow by 7%, which would be a big leap.

The extent of the economic push will also depend on people’s willingness to get vaccinated. In many rich countries, skepticism about vaccines and their side effects has grown in recent decades. These concerns may be exacerbated by the fact that the development and testing of coronavirus vaccines is happening much faster than normal.

A Pew Research Center survey of 10,093 Americans conducted September 8-13 found that only 51 percent would definitely or likely get vaccinated, down from 72 percent in May. Experts in containing viruses estimate that a vaccination rate of between 60% and 70% is required for success, so this probably wouldn’t be enough to contain the virus.

Write to Paul Hannon at paul.hannon@wsj.com

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