Omicron Poised to Cause More Global Damage: UN Report

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres. UN Photo/Jean-Marc Ferré (file photo)
United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres. UN Photo/Jean-Marc Ferré (file photo)

With the highly transmissible Omicron variant of Covid-19 unleashing new waves of infections, the human and economic toll of the pandemic are projected to increase again.

The global economic recovery is facing significant headwinds amid new waves of Covid-19 infections, persistent labour market challenges, lingering supply-chain challenges and rising inflationary pressures. After expanding by 5.5 percent in 2021, the global output is projected to grow by only 4.0 per cent in 2022 and 3.5 per cent in 2023, according to the United Nations World Economic Situation and Prospects (WESP) 2022 report, which was launched on January 13.

The robust recovery in 2021 – driven by strong consumer spending and some uptake in investment, with trade in goods surpassing pre-pandemic levels — marked the highest growth rate in more than four decades, the report highlighted. Yet the momentum for growth – especially in China, the United States and the European Union – slowed considerably by the end of 2021, as the effects of monetary and fiscal stimuli began to recede and major supply-chain disruptions emerged. Rising inflationary pressures in many economies are posing additional risks to recovery, the report stated.

“In this fragile and uneven period of global recovery, the World Economic Situation and Prospects 2022 calls for better targeted and coordinated policy and financial measures at the national and international levels. The time is now to close the inequality gaps within and among countries. If we work in solidarity – as one human family – we can make 2022 a true year of recovery for people and economies alike,” said António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations.

With the highly transmissible Omicron variant of Covid-19 unleashing new waves of infections, the human and economic toll of the pandemic are projected to increase again. “Without a coordinated and sustained global approach to contain Covid-19 that includes universal access to vaccines, the pandemic will continue to pose the greatest risk to an inclusive and sustainable recovery of the world economy,” noted Liu Zhenmin, Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs.

The World Economic Situation and Prospects Report 2022 is a report produced by the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN DESA), in partnership with the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and the five United Nations regional commissions (Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), Economic Commission for Europe (ECE), Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) and Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA). The United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) also contributed to the report.

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Rakesh Raman