COVID will affect world for years to come - study | Daily News

COVID will affect world for years to come - study

Even though life is beginning to return to some semblance of normal in parts of the world thanks to the success of vaccination efforts, a new report finds that the Covid-19 pandemic will continue to severely impact the world.

US intelligence agencies released their unclassified Annual Threat Assessment report on Tuesday, offering views on global challenges ranging from tensions with China to nuclear diplomacy with Iran to the dangers of domestic violent extremism.

But the most troubling part of the 27-page document, which top intelligence officials are presenting to Congress on Wednesday in open and closed sessions, is the section about how the coronavirus pandemic will define our world for years to come.

In the near term, the economies of hard-hit and lower-income countries will suffer, and access to adequate health care for the most vulnerable will decline. In the long run, great powers like China, Russia, and the US will jockey for global influence, potentially driving them apart instead of closer together at a time when the world most needs cooperation.

Simply put, it’s a grim picture.

The most immediate impact will be economic calamity.

“The economic fallout from the pandemic is likely to create or worsen instability in at least a few — and perhaps many — countries, as people grow more desperate in the face of interlocking pressures that include sustained economic downturns, job losses, and disrupted supply chains,” the report reads. “Some hard-hit developing countries are experiencing financial and humanitarian crises, increasing the risk of surges in migration, collapsed governments, or internal conflict.”

Reflect on that for a moment: That’s the US intelligence community, one of the greatest collections of spies and analysts in the world, saying the financial hardships brought on by the coronavirus could foment or deepen “instability” in “perhaps many” countries. “The economic and political implications of the pandemic will ripple through the world for years,” they write.

Former top intelligence officials I spoke with agree with this assessment. “It is a hard truth,” James Clapper, who served as the director of national intelligence from 2010 to 2017, told me. “This development — coupled with the impacts of climate change — make for a not very rosy future unless mankind gets its act together, and soon.”

The economic part certainly rings true: The world economy shrank between 3 and 4 percent last year, as we were bombarded with images of closed-up restaurants, stores, and factories. Per the International Labour Organization, about 114 million people worldwide lost their jobs last year.

The damage in the US was so large that it led Presidents Donald Trump and Joe Biden to propose, and Congress to approve, trillions of dollars of economic relief just to keep the American economy afloat. Millions around the world won’t get such a lifeline from their governments, though, and they may eventually demand more from officials than the governments can provide. When that happens, usually a crisis follows.

“Many poorer countries are reaching the limit of what they can do with regard to using debt-fueled stimulus and social policies to cushion that continued fallout from the pandemic,” said Thomas Bollyky, a senior fellow for global health, economics, and development at the Council on Foreign Relations. “Something has to give.” (VOX)