Mahbub ul haq Distinguished Lecture

The Economics of the COVID-19 Pandemic in Poor Countries

Panelists: Mushfiq Mobarak (Yale), Maha Rehman (LUMS) and Ali Cheema (LUMS, IDEAS, CERP)
6:30 PM PKT

The COVID-19 pandemic has upended health and living standards around the world. This talk overviews these effects, with a particular focus on low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). Economists have explained how the pandemic is likely to have different consequences for LMICs, and demanded distinct policy responses, compared to rich countries. The pandemic’s many adverse economic and noneconomic effects in terms of living standards, education, health, and gender equality appear to be unprecedented in scope and scale. The panelists also review research on successful and failed policy responses, including the failure to ensure widespread vaccine coverage in many LMICs. Vaccines are changing the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, but in grossly uneven ways. The poorest countries continue to face considerable obstacles in both receiving and distributing doses. To limit virus transmission, its devastating impacts, and opportunities for further mutations, this must change. Until it does, nonpharmaceutical interventions such as masking must remain a priority.