More than 200 million people are at risk of unemployment as human civilization faces a new world war in the form of COVID-19 that can only be stopped by global cooperation, a Chinese expert has told symposium in Abu Dhabi.
Dr. Wang Wen, executive dean of Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies, and vice president of Silk Road School at Renmin University of China (RUC), said there is a significant risk of conflict because of social breakdown and instability.
He was addressing the e-symposium — COVID-19 and the Global Economy: Effects and Repercussions — organized by TRENDS Research and Advisory, as part of its First Global Economic Forum.
“The pandemic is turning into a protracted war, and the globe is facing an unprecedented crisis. Premature opening of some countries’ economies has exacerbated recurrence of the disease,” Dr. Wen said.
He said COVID-19 had developed as many as 40 variants, and the scientists are facing a significant challenge in tackling it. “It will take at least half a year before a vaccine is developed. Up to 1 billion people could eventually be affected, and the death toll could be 7 million.”
He lamented that anti-globalization sentiments are rising due to populism. “This will lead to the rise of protectionism even though no country can ignore global problems like pandemic and climate change.”
Ahmed Al-Turbak, an economist, said effective health policies should complement the right fiscal policies. “There is more scope for coordinated GCC fiscal policies. In previous crises, fiscal policies were not always appropriate as they were counter-cyclical as they cut spending during downturns.”
Dr. Omar Al-Ubaydli, director of research at Derasat, Bahrain, said the first requirement is an effective track and trace system besides comprehensive testing.
Federico Bonaglia, deputy director at the OECD Development Center, France, said: “While it is difficult to generalize, the 2007-2009 global financial crisis shows us that it is important that stimulus measures do not waste taxpayers’ money or distort competition in the market.”