Bangladesh can get $20.48 billion in financial gain if it can create herd immunity for Covid-19 by vaccinating 70 per cent of its population in the next two years, the World Bank (WB) estimates.
The estimate was made in its report titled: ‘South Asia Economic Focus Spring 2021: South Asia Vaccinates’, published recently.The Washington-based lending agency also came up with the cost-benefit analysis of the vaccination campaign by presenting its cost.
It said the country has to spend $1.17 billion to vaccinate its 70 per cent population, adding the cost will immensely benefit the country economically.
“The enormous impact of the crisis indicates the potential benefits of vaccines,” says the World Bank report.
The agency said if vaccines were available at the beginning of the pandemic, 1.88 lives could have been saved and South Asia and GDP’s 20 per cent economic loss could have been prevented.
The lockdown has saved lives but told upon livelihoods, but importantly, vaccines save lives and livelihoods at the same time, it observed.
It estimated that the pandemic resulted in a 5.4 per cent fall in GDP for South Asia as a whole in 2020 against a 6.5 per cent previous growth forecast. re“The current crisis has triggered a debate about the trade-off between lives and livelihoods: a lockdown saves lives, but at the cost of economic damage and livelihoods. With vaccines, there is no trade-off,” the report says.
The WB said vaccination cannot immediately undo the economic damage that was done as it takes time to recoup foregone investments and growth, but it will shorten the recovery time.
“The later vaccines are administered, the more difficult it is to reverse the damage quickly. The longer the crisis lasts, the more firms go bankrupt,” it said.
“The longer workers are unemployed, children have difficulties attending school, and firms are shut down, the greater the loss of human and organizational capital, and the more difficult it becomes to reach the potential output growth experienced before the pandemic,” it added.
As a result, it can take many years before the expected pre-pandemic level of GDP is reached, even with vaccines, if the vaccination is delayed.
The WB has presented three scenarios for vaccination cost excluding the gifts of vaccines but considering the potential share of expenditure, from government or development partners.
In the first scenario, the government has to spend $1.92 billion to vaccinate 70 per cent population in the next two years, where the cost of two doses of vaccine is $19. The WB has termed it a “pessimistic” scenario.
The WB termed the second scenario “realistic” where the country has to spend Tk 1.36 billion for paying $6 per two doses vaccine price.
For the third scenario, Bangladesh has to spend GDP’s 0.10 per cent in 2021 and 0.23 per cent in the following year to bring 70 per cent of its population under the vaccination campaign.
According to economic analysts, the government doesn’t have to worry about the money as development partners have come forward to provide the money but should focus more on enhancing capacity for vaccination.