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The Global Disparity in COVID Vaccines Is Growing

High-income countries have, on average, administered nearly 25 times more doses of coronavirus vaccines than low-income countries, according to Our World in Data. The data reveal a stark difference in vaccination programs by country: Richer countries have administered nearly 170 doses per 100 residents, compared to just seven in low-income countries. 

Lower-income countries have suffered from a lack of vaccine supplies and other logistical challenges. Many have relied on COVAX, which originally aimed to provide two billion doses by the end of 2021. 

Yet, export bans, production problems and hoarding by wealthy nations have severely undermined this number, with one report saying that just over 1.1 billion doses had been delivered by the end of January. At the current pace, 109 countries would miss out on fully vaccinating 70% of their populations by the start of July 2022, says the WHO.

The lack of vaccine access in poor countries (and vaccine hesitancy anywhere) results in persistent transmission of SARS-Cov-2, which works in favor of new variants emerging. This will continue straining health care systems and further jeopardize work-life equality, labor force participation and the careers of women — who have already suffered disproportionate job and income loss during the pandemic.

Ukraine Crisis Sets Back Europe’s Economy

The conflict in Ukraine is taking its worst toll in human lives, but it will also set back Europe’s economic recovery from the pandemic, the International Monetary Fund reports. Rising inflation, spiking energy and food prices, and disruptions to supply chains have lowered the growth projections for multiple countries, especially Ukraine and Russia.

The IMF’s latest Regional Economic Outlook predicts that several major economies, including France, Germany, Italy and the U.K., will barely expand or contract for two quarters this year. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is forecast to shrink its economy by 8.5% and Ukraine’s by 35%. The IMF also lowered their GDP growth projections by 1 percentage point for advanced economies and by 1.5 percentage points for emerging economies.

Inflation is also projected to hit decade-highs in many countries, rising by 5.5% in advanced economies and to 9.3% in emerging economies (excluding Belarus, Russia, Turkey and Ukraine). The conflict will decrease economic output, while increasing budgetary pressures, particularly in EU countries hosting the most refugees.

More Companies Concerned About Cyberattacks Than Natural Disasters

More technology companies are concerned about ransomware attacks than any other threat, shows a new risk report from Marsh. Forty-seven percent of respondents say that a cyberattack that shut down their operations or their suppliers would be a catastrophic threat to their company — more than double the response to that question only two years ago.

Another one-third of respondents say a ransomware attack leading to a data breach would be catastrophic. Data breaches are also considered risky, even if they aren’t catastrophic; 83% of respondents said threats to data security and privacy are the top risks to their company. Companies are also concerned about natural disasters and geopolitical events — the number of people who consider a trade war a significant risk is five times higher than two years ago.

As the conflict in Ukraine increases the likelihood of cyberattacks, companies, governments and organizations have had to tighten their cybersecurity protocols or risk substantial harm. The pandemic was also a driver of increased cybersecurity, as firms updated their security controls to account for employees working from home.

What Do Consumers Cut Back On in a Recession?

High inflation in the U.K. has lowered consumer confidence and disposable incomes and raised the specter of a recession, reports Investment Monitor. Britain’s inflation rate hit a 30-year high in March at 7% and is expected to rise to nearly 9% later this year.

A survey by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) revealed that 87% of U.K. adults had seen their cost of living increase in the past month, up from 62% in November. Real incomes have also fallen by almost 2% since last year and are expected to fall another 2.3% this year, according to ONS. As a result, Brits are cutting back on spending, with over half reducing their spending on non-essentials, 45% cutting back on their energy use, and 33% spending less on food and other essential items.

The Bank of England has been under pressure to decrease inflation by raising interest rates without causing a recession.

EV Charging Stations Will Pop Up Across Europe

There could be 5 million electric vehicle (EV) battery charging stations across the EU by 2030 — and double that by 2035, according to a new report from Transport and Environment (T&E). 

As part of the European Green Deal, the EU aims to reduce transportation-related greenhouse gas emissions by 90% by 2050 (compared to 1990 levels), and EVs are a large part of the solution. However, after an audit of charging infrastructure across the EU, the European Commission found that charging stations were placed at irregular intervals across the region. 

The EU’s draft infrastructure bill requires EU states to install charging stations at a rate high enough to keep pace with the rise of EV fleets, easing consumer concerns of being on the road without access to sufficient charging stations.

Fabian Sperka of T&E says: “Public charging is a key concern for drivers, and governments will be required by law to address this by expanding national networks in line with the electric car fleet. European lawmakers don’t need to hold back on setting higher car CO2 targets for fear of a lack of charge points.”

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