Mapping COVID-19’s web of impact
COVID-19 produced winners and losers: in vaccine access, care burdens, disease outcomes, income, education, healthcare and many more. Since disadvantages intersect and compound, communities in poorer nations fared worst. In October 2022, nearly three years since coronavirus emerged, the World Health Organization estimated that approximately three times as many people in high-income countries have been vaccinated as in low-income countries.
COVID-19 has also paused international ‘wealth convergence’ within and between nations. Other outcomes, including generation-wide lost schooling, will be longer term. Such injustices threaten the global ‘social contract’ needed to tackle issues such as climate change.
The pandemic is a wake-up call: clearly, multilateral systems need transformational change. We discuss COVID-19 as a pandemic of amplified inequality and highlight its cross-cutting lessons: on social protection; inclusive responses; and better understanding of intersecting vulnerabilities.