A hundred and fifty million people in developing countries are likely to fall back into extreme poverty in 2021 as the coronavirus pandemic continues to devastate economies, delegates at the virtual World Economic Forum (WEF) were told on Thursday. The annual Davos summit, which is being held by video link rather than in the plush Swiss ski resort, heard that despite the rollout of vaccines, the social impact of the health emergency was likely to be felt for several years.
The WEF Global Risks Report 2021, which was published alongside the summit, revealed how COVID-19 has exacerbated inequalities in health care, education and access to technology. The report warned that “job losses, a widening digital divide, disrupted social interactions, and abrupt shifts in markets could lead to dire consequences and lost opportunities for large parts of the global population.” The seismic shift in the world’s labor market, already underway due to technological advances, has been accelerated by several years in just a few short months, prompting Angel Gurria, secretary-general of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) to warn of the potential “scarring” effect of the pandemic on workers.
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