COVID-19 Derails Global Health Advances

People line up for food during a COVID-19 lockdown in Kolkata,India. August 27,2020. Image: Debajyoti Chakraborty/NurPhoto via Getty
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People line up for food during a COVID-19 lockdown in Kolkata,India. August 27,2020. Image: Debajyoti Chakraborty/NurPhoto via Getty

COVID-19 has derailed global health and development by nearly every indicator—setting back vaccine coverage, for example, by 25 years in just 25 weeks, according to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s sobering new Goalkeepers Report.

In past years, the world improved on nearly all of the 18 UN Sustainable Development Goals tracked by the report—reflecting the march of improvements in fighting poverty and disease. 

This year, however:

  • Extreme poverty is up 7%

  • Vaccine coverage has dipped to lows not seen since the 1990s

  • Poor countries could lose a decade of development


“This pandemic has magnified every existing inequality in our society – like systemic racism, gender inequality, and poverty,” Melinda Gates tells The Guardian.

Faint Hint of Optimism: The report singles out some viable strategies to end the pandemic, like the collaborative Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator.
 
The report calls on governments to embrace collaborative efforts and recognize there “is no such thing as a national solution to a global crisis … The longer it takes us to realize that, the longer it will take (and the more it will cost) to get back on our feet.”

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