Pandemic stalled 25 years of progress in fighting poverty, Bill Gates says

The effects of the coronavirus pandemic have halted and reversed global health progress, setting it back 25 years and exposing millions to the risk of deadly disease and poverty, a report by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation warned on Tuesday. It shows that, by nearly every indicator, the world has regressed in attempts to meet the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals to end poverty and reduce inequality.

Extreme poverty has increased by 7% due to the outbreak, according to the foundation's annual "Goalkeepers" report. Vaccine coverage which is a proxy measure for how health systems are functioning has plummeted to levels last seen in the 1990s, "setting the world back about 25 years in 25 weeks."

The data also show that the economic fallout from the pandemic is reinforcing inequalities, with women, racial and ethnic minority communities, and people living in extreme poverty hit particularly hard.

In the report, which Bill and Melinda Gates have co-authored every year since 2017, they call for: global collaboration on the development of diagnostics, vaccines, and treatments; swift manufacturing of tests and doses; and the equitable delivery of those tools based on need rather than the ability to pay. "This is a shared global crisis that demands a shared global response," they wrote.

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