17.10.2021 Author: Vladimir Odintsov

Pandemic is Still in the Limelight of International Politics


Assessing the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, Niall Ferguson, Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, pointed out in an interview with the German publication Handelsblatt, that its economic impact is more comparable to that of a world war. This applies to both the huge financial assistance provided by central banks and governments and the rhetoric of economic policy.

The coronavirus-induced global spike in inflation has affected all countries without exception, not even developed economies were spared. Analysts estimate that the current inflationary wave could last another year or two until the production and supply chains disrupted by the pandemic are restored. But there’s no counting on prices returning to, say, 2019 after the coronavirus recedes sooner or later. Many corporations that made good money during the pandemic will try to “keep what they gained,” and the rise in many commodity prices may continue for several more years.

Due to the crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic, there has been an unprecedented rise in food prices around the world, reports Der Spiegel, with people losing a large part of their income. According to IMF experts, the threat of mass starvation is great in developing countries significantly dependent on imports.

The most rapidly rising commodity now is energy sources and electricity – its cost has been growing at a rate of tens of per cent in recent months. Many negative factors have contributed to this: the misguided energy policy of many governments, which has caused gas prices to skyrocket, the summer heat and, last but not least, the “green transition” in the energy sector – wind power plants cannot operate at full capacity due to weak wind power. Spain was particularly hard hit by rising electricity prices, where the government had to take emergency measures to avoid social protests.

The coronavirus pandemic sent shockwaves through transport routes (especially shipping and railways), and not only has the shock not passed so far, it has become worse. Entire industries have suffered colossal damage, and consumers worldwide have been the victims of what is happening. The outright shock to global logistics has been the dramatic increase in the cost of services. According to the British company Drewry Shipping, the cost of delivery of a standard 40-foot container on the eight major routes in the East-West corridor in the past year jumped 360%, to almost 10 thousand dollars. And on such a popular route as Shanghai – Rotterdam, the container’s delivery price rose by 659% to 13.7 thousand dollars. Constant problems with delivery make it impossible to cope with component shortages in many global markets, leading to a steady rise in the cost of the final product.

The coronavirus pandemic has resulted in skyrocketing property prices and a shortage of social housing in some countries. In the past year, cuts in public shelters for COVID-19 prevention and fear of the virus have forced homeless people back onto the streets. The problem of homelessness has become particularly acute in the United States, where many American city centers are now literally flooded with homeless people, as the French Le Monde notes.

Lack of communication, hopelessness, and boredom during quarantine led to an increase in substance use among young people, reports Welt (TV). In one of the German states, the number of parents’ visits to counseling centers for drug addicts has doubled. The fact that teenagers are more addicted to alcohol, weed, and pills has also been confirmed by psychologists and doctors, says the German TV channel.

The long-term effects of COVID-19 disease are largely unexplored. However, after British scientists studied the effect of the disease on cognitive abilities, they concluded that the disease could cause a decrease in intelligence quotient, reports the German magazine Focus.

Bulgarian Health Minister Stoycho Katsarov spoke from the parliamentary rostrum about the serious mistakes made in the country in overcoming the COVID crisis. In particular, he stressed that the authorities did not protect the most vulnerable groups at all – people over 60 years old and with chronic illnesses. “This is a big mistake as more than 80% of COVID-19 deaths occur in people over the age of 60. Therefore, in all countries except Bulgaria, priority is given to the elderly. When you vaccinate older people, not only do you reduce the spread of the virus, but you also reduce mortality.” According to the Bulgarian minister, these blunders cost the country tens of thousands of lives.

Older people were also the most affected in Britain. A third of the people killed by the coronavirus in England were nursing home residents, reports The Daily Telegraph. Some of these institutions have lost up to 75% of their clients.

A year and a half of the coronavirus pandemic has led to a decline in the ratings of politicians in most countries of the world, both the authorities and the opposition, says the report of the Russian NGO Social Research Expert Institute (EISR) “Pandemic and trust – on the global dynamics of political ratings and waves of COVID-19”. The rising incidence of the disease is provoking more negative media coverage and maintaining a sense of anxiety among citizens, as well as becoming a source of protest and dissatisfaction with the authorities, who, according to some voters, demonstrate their inability to cope with the problem and, according to others, inflate, manipulate and exaggerate the danger, the report concludes. As a result, after a year and a half of pandemic, the authorities find themselves under a barrage of criticism from both COVID-skeptics, who deny the very need for restrictions, and COVID-loyalists, for whom any restrictions look insufficient. This factor, combined with the new wave of disease, leads to disappointment in the actions of politicians and their ability to prevent the epidemic threat.

After the coronavirus pandemic, the world will become a more dangerous place, Josep Borrell, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, told a press conference in Santander, Spain. He believes that the coronavirus has “changed all the parameters on the international stage.” According to the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the post-pandemic world will be unequal, and it will also be a more dangerous world because of increased tensions and conflicts. He also believes that after the pandemic, the world will be dominated by rivalry between China and the United States.

Vladimir Odintsov, political observer, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.

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