The Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman believes vaccination against COVID-19 is the “only medicine” which would enable economic growth. She said it was the only way to prevent a third wave of COVID-19 infections.
“Vaccination is the only medicine for the growth of the economy. For people to buy and sell or farmers to carry out farming in their land,” Sitharaman said on Sunday at the centenary celebrations of Tamilnad Mercantile Bank Limited in Thoothukudi district.
The Finance Minister highlighted that hospitals located in rural areas were able to spruce-up facilities during the second wave of the pandemic by availing the schemes announced by her ministry, and were praying for the third wave not to happen. “But if it does occur, we are looking into the availability of hospitals. Do they have ICU and even if there is an ICU, do they have oxygen support? For all these questions, the ministry announced a scheme on June 28, allowing hospitals to expand capabilities during the second wave.”
The United Nations in its World Economic Situation and Prospects as of mid-2021 stated that the economic outlook for the countries in South Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America, and the Caribbean remains fragile and uncertain. With the risks of a prolonged pandemic and insufficient fiscal space to stimulate the demand, the world’s most vulnerable countries are facing the prospect of a lost decade. The report says for more developing countries, economic output is only projected to return to pre-pandemic levels in 2022 or 2023.
India has been particularly affected by a brutal second wave, which overwhelmed the public health system in large parts of the country. To tackle the outbreak, the Indian government expanded vaccine eligibility and ramped up supply in every possible manner, but access to COVID vaccines in unequal and insufficient to meet the massive demand. As such, the report said India’s growth outlook in 2021 is highly fragile.
However, it said regional economic growth will return in 2021 at 6.9% against a 5.6% drop in 2020, but the recovery will be very uneven as the scarring effects will run deep. It should be noted that overall global growth prospects have improved since the beginning of the year against the backdrop of the rapid rollout of COVID-19 vaccination in a few large economies, including the United States, Europe and China.
The United Nations says timely and critical access to COVID-19 vaccines will remain critical for ensuring broad-based and inclusive recovery of the world economy.