A strong COVID-19 response, and a road to recovery

The coronavirus pandemic has taken a drastic human toll, with close to 15 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 and over 600,000 deaths around the world by mid July.

As the geography of the outbreak continues to shift, new hot spots are emerging in developing countries – including in Latin America and South Asia – as well as worrying trends in parts of Africa.

Second-wave outbreaks are also appearing in areas that had seen progress.

The economic and social impacts of the pandemic are reverberating globally: amid great uncertainty, we can all foresee a very different world for a long time to come. Millions more people are likely to fall into extreme poverty as a result of COVID-19, and the existing poor will experience even deeper deprivation. Well over a billion jobs are under threat worldwide, deepening the need for better safety nets for most informal workers or for many vulnerable groups. As developing countries race to halt the health emergency, they must seek ways to contain the economic and social damage as well as work urgently to get their development agendas back on track.

On all these fronts, the World Bank Group is committed to doing all we can to help. We recognize that the massive scale of the COVID-19 pandemic demands a truly exceptional response. Already we are working with over 100 low- and middle-income countries to bolster their health systems and broad-scale pandemic response as well as lay the groundwork for recovery.

“We plan to provide up to $160 billion in financing from April 2020-June 2021, for mitigating the health emergency as well as dealing with the economic and social impact of the crisis.”

This effort involves all the Bank Group’s financing arms, with about 2/3 of this financing from the public sector arm – IBRD/IDA – and the rest from the private sector arm, IFC and MIGA.

As I outlined in a recent blog, there are four priorities for the broad, fast action that the World Bank Group has underway: saving lives threatened by the pandemic; protecting the poor and vulnerable; helping save jobs and businesses; and working to build a more resilient recovery. These priorities are outlined in our operational approach to the COVID-19 crisis, entitled Saving Lives, Scaling-up Impact and Getting Back on Track. I encourage everyone to explore this paper in depth, and I’d like to highlight a few key points here.