Poor die from Covid while rich get richer
The wealth of the 10 richest men has doubled during the coronavirus pandemic, stoking inequality that contributes to the deaths of at least 21,300 people each day, according to a report released yesterday by Oxfam International.
"We enter 2022 with unprecedented concern," Oxfam's Inequality Kills report warns, arguing that the current global state of extreme inequality is a form of "economic violence" against the world's poorest people and nations.
In this deeply unequal world, structural and systemic policy and political choices are skewed in favour of the richest and most powerful, resulting in harm to the majority of ordinary people around the world, said the report, which highlighted the Covid-19 vaccine divide as a prime example.
"Millions of people would still be alive today if they had had a vaccine — but they are dead, denied a chance while big pharmaceutical corporations continue to hold monopoly control of these technologies," said Oxfam.
The report calculates that 252 men have more wealth than all one billion women and girls in Africa and Latin America and the Caribbean combined. And 10 of the world's richest men own more than the least affluent 3.1 billion people.
Moreover, while the rich got a whole lot richer during the pandemic, the incomes of 99 percent of humanity suffered.
Oxfam's report is usually released prior to the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland – but the in-person gathering of the world's richest and most powerful has been postponed again this year due to the pandemic, reports Al Jazeera Online.
Last week, WEF released its Global Risks Report 2022 warning that the lopsided economic recovery from coronavirus, much of which has relied on the roll-out of vaccinations, has deepened divisions within and between nations.
It also stressed that growing inequality, made worse by the pandemic, is sure to cause additional tensions, resentments and further complicate nations' responses to climate change, economic disparities and social instabilities.
The coronavirus has killed at least 5,537,051 people worldwide since the outbreak emerged in China in December 2019, according to an AFP tally compiled from official sources yesterday.
The number of cases in China yesterday reached its highest level since March 2020.
With growing fears about the Omicron strain challenging China's stringent approach to virus control, a senior health official told residents of Beijing to "avoid buying goods from overseas" after saying a local case could have been infected by international post.
The United Nations said yesterday the Covid-19 crisis is continuing to hit jobs hard around the world, warning it could take years for employment levels to reach pre-pandemic levels.
In a new study, the UN's International Labour Organization revised its previous forecast that the global employment market will make a nearly full recovery from the virus this year.
Blaming the impacts of Covid variants like Delta and Omicron and uncertainty around how the pandemic will evolve, it now projects a significant deficit in working hours in 2022 compared to before Covid-19 emerged.