The Covid-19 pandemic has greatly affected lives and livelihoods. And, we think, it will have consequences that will persist long after the virus ceases to be a deadly threat. There will be permanent changes to people’s behaviour and business decisions — for better and for worse.

We have written extensively on how vaccine distribution inequality is creating a two-track recovery for the global economy. Developed countries are speeding ahead with economic reopening and on track to surpassing pre-pandemic GDP levels within the year. Meanwhile, much of the developing world remains unvaccinated and at risk of a Covid-19 variant resurgence and are experiencing patchy and slower economic recoveries. The divide between the rich and poor is clear and growing.

That said, we also wonder if reopening strategies go beyond just vaccination rates. A case in point: Singapore and China rank among the world’s most highly vaccinated countries — 82% and 71% of their populations are fully vaccinated respectively. This is much higher than that in the UK (66%) and US (55%) (see Chart 1). Yet, both Asian countries have, thus far, remained very much focused on containment measures. China is adhering closely to its zeroCovid strategy while Singapore, despite all the talk of treating Covid-19 as endemic, decided to tighten restrictions in response to the latest community outbreak. In contrast, the UK and US lifted all pandemic restrictions months ago, with no sign of reversing even when cases and deaths are rising quickly in the case of the latter.

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