Janet Yellen warns coronavirus variants threaten global recovery
VENICE – Treasury Secretary Janet L. Yellen said on Sunday she feared variants of the coronavirus could derail the global economic recovery and called for urgent action to roll out vaccines more quickly around the world.
His comments, made following a meeting of Group of 20 finance ministers, came as the highly contagious Delta variant of the coronavirus was causing epidemics among unvaccinated populations in countries like Australia, l ‘Indonesia, Malaysia and Portugal. Delta is also now the dominant variant in the United States.
“We are very concerned about the Delta variant and other variants that could emerge and threaten recovery,” Ms. Yellen said. “We are a connected global economy. What happens in any part of the world affects all other countries.
Many cities and countries have started to declare victory against the pandemic, easing restrictions and resuming normal life. But Ms Yellen warned that the public health crisis was not over.
She said the world’s top economic officials had spent much of the weekend in Venice discussing how they could improve vaccine distribution, with the goal of getting 70% of the world immunized by the time. ‘next year. Ms. Yellen noted that many countries had successfully funded the purchase of vaccines, but the logistics to get them into people’s arms were insufficient.
“We need to do something more and be more efficient,” she said.
The spread of variants has started to dampen optimism about the trajectory of the recovery.
Analysts at Capital Economics said this week that they expect to cut their outlook for economic growth for the year to less than 6%.
The spread of new coronavirus variants has “raised doubts about the pace of real economic growth in the second half of this year and beyond,” wrote Paul Ashworth, chief economist for North America at Capital Economics, in a research note.
The International Monetary Fund said it was maintaining its projection of 6% global growth this year, but warned that growth was suppressed in developing countries where infection rates were rising.
“The divergence between the economies is intensifying”, IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva said on Saturday. “Essentially, the world is facing a two-way recovery. “
Some finance ministers also expressed concern over the weekend that the variants and slowness of vaccination could disrupt the recovery. This concern was highlighted as a downside risk to the global economy in the joint statement released by the group.
“The only obstacle on the way to a rapid and solid economic rebound is the risk of having a new wave of pandemics,” said Bruno Le Maire, the French Minister of Finance. “We all need to improve our vaccine performance. “
The IMF’s board last week approved a plan to issue $ 650 billion in reserve funds that countries could use to purchase vaccines and finance health care initiatives.
Ms Yellen said she had urged her counterparts in the Group of 20 to accelerate the ‘equitable’ delivery and distribution of vaccines, diagnostics and therapeutics to ensure that low- and middle-income countries can fight flare-ups. virus.
Policymakers at this weekend’s meeting also spent time focusing on new investments to prepare for future pandemics. Ms Yellen said that while this is important, there was more to be done in the short term.
“Certainly, the variants pose a threat to the whole world,” she said.