IMF chief Kristalina Georgieva said on Thursday that accelerating the pace of vaccinations around the world will be key not only to contain the coronavirus pandemic, but also to address impediments to the global economic recovery.
Finance officials gathered for the Washington-based crisis lender’s annual meeting flagged concerns about supply chain disruptions that are driving prices higher.
Those disruptions stemmed from a sharp rebound in demand as workers struggle to keep hiring amid the unprecedented situation created by the pandemic and reopening of economies as well as renewed infections from the delta version of the coronavirus.
But Georgieva said the “more fundamental problem” is the increasing variation between countries that are leading the way more strongly, and those that are falling behind, “largely due to the steep reduction in vaccination rates in low-income countries. .
“There was a very clear message coming from this meeting that immunization of the world is important,” she told reporters.
While advanced countries are starting to provide booster shots, about 96 percent of the population in low-income countries is illiterate.
Members of the International Monetary Fund called for “a stronger international cooperation and immediate action to achieve universal immunization,” said Sweden’s Finance Minister Magdalena Andersson, who chairs the IMF’s steering committee.
Georgieva reiterated the fund’s view that inflationary pressures are mostly temporary, but the committee stressed that central banks will closely monitor prices and act when there are “substantial” risks.
The Committee, in its closing statement, recognized the risks to recovery and highlighted the need for “urgent action” on vaccination and to address the crisis that is exacerbating poverty.
Membership also reiterated its pledge to “give financial assistance to countries in need”.
This includes transferring money from newly issued IMF reserves – $650 billion in special drawing rights – to the countries most in need. Georgieva said her $100 billion target was “very achievable”.