Kristalina Georgieva, head of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), chaired a discussion last week with Neil Ferguson, director of the Abdul Latif Jameel Institute for Disease and Emergency Analytics at Imperial College London, and his colleague, Azra Ghani, on the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on livelihoods. The discussion was held as part of the IMF’s annual Spring Meeting, hosted online this year due to COVID-19.
Addressing the IMF’s forecast that the global economy will begin to recover in the second half of 2020, Ferguson suggested that there will be variation by geography.
“The countries that decide to mostly mitigate — but not necessarily stop — the pandemic will see a much higher impact in the short term but will, in some senses, put the pandemic behind them,” he said. By contrast, Ferguson anticipated that most high-income countries and China would need to keep substantial controls in place until a vaccine is discovered, which he expected in 2021.
Noting the integrated relationship between health and livelihoods, Ghani said: “You cannot have a health system without a workforce. You cannot have a workforce without ensuring those livelihoods are sustained.”
In concluding the meeting, Georgieva noted the importance of collaborations — like that between the IMF and the Jameel Institute — for developing the policy response.
“This conversation re-affirms my conviction that in terms of economic policy action in this environment we still need the macroeconomists but we also need the epidemiologists to make the right decisions.”
The Jameel Institute is at the heart of the Imperial College COVID-19 Response Team and has been advising policymakers around the world on the spread and control of the pandemic.
Its advice led to dramatic shifts in policy in the UK and the US in March, triggering the lockdown and strict social distancing measures that are still in place in those countries and across Europe.
The Jameel Institute was co-founded in 2019 by Imperial College London and Community Jameel, the philanthropy of the Jameel family, with a mission to combat disease threats worldwide. Bringing together global health researchers in Imperial’s School of Public Health and drawing on Imperial’s expertise in data analytics, epidemiology and economics, the Jameel Institute aims to improve our understanding of diseases and health emergencies in the most vulnerable populations across the globe. The institute links governments, research institutions and communities to develop practical and effective long-term solutions, shape health policy and deliver a better quality of life for all.