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India’s Poor Neighbors May Be Set Back 20 Years by COVID-19 Wave, Reveals Global Times

May 8, 2021 (EIRNS)—China’s Global Times argues that the fragile health systems and economies of India’s neighboring countries, themselves highly dependent upon India’s economy, may be set back 20 years, if they can’t contain the infectious wave of COVID-19 over the next two weeks. The May 7 article, entitled “Economy of India’ Neighbors in South and Southeast Asia May Need ‘Two Decades’ To Return to Pre-Pandemic Level Amid New Wave of COVID-19,” cites Hu Zhiyong, a research fellow at Institute of International Relations of the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences, on the vulnerability of labor-intensive factories in Bangladesh and elsewhere: “It may take 5 to 10 years for South Asian countries’ economies to return to pre-pandemic levels if these countries could control the ongoing wave in two weeks, and if not, their economies may need 20 years to recover.” Hu referred to the China-South Asia emergency supply reserve of vaccines as an example of China’s experience in using the central medical reserves against COVID.

A forward-based vaccine reserve for quick logistical deployment was half of the plan of China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi, announced on April 27, to also establish a China-South Asia “poverty reduction and development cooperation center”—which would apply China’s established capability for wiping out poverty to the region, beginning in the third quarter of 2021.

However, the real prospect of new variant strains remains hovering over the scene. Yang Zhanqiu, the deputy director of the pathogen biology department at Wuhan University, said that even more complicated variants than the infamous “double mutant” could develop out of the catastrophe in India: “It’s very likely that the virus may develop quadruple or more mutations in the third wave of COVID-19 in India that are more transmissible and immune-evasive, making the current vaccines less and less effective.”

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