Sep 15, 2020 - Health

Melinda Gates: COVID-19 erased 25 years of vaccine progress in 25 weeks

The impact of COVID-19 led to "devastating" reversals of global gains in education, poverty eradication, vaccinations, and maternal and child health, according to the findings from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation's annual Goalkeepers report, which were shared exclusively with "Axios on HBO."

Why it matters: The coronavirus is proving to be more than just a health crisis, thrusting millions into poverty.

"Basically, eight months of COVID reversed gains in almost every category that had been made steadily over the last couple of decades," Melinda Gates told me in an interview for "Axios on HBO."

  • Over the last year, 37 million people fell below the $1.90 a day poverty level. "It's the difference between being able to put food on your table or not put food on your table and go hungry," Gates said.
  • With regards to existing vaccinations, the coronavirus has erased all the progress the world has made in the last two and a half decades. "What we know is that 25 years of increased vaccinations that have saved children's lives all over the world was set back in 25 weeks."

Yes, but: There was one area where the world did see progress. The number of people with bank accounts expanded as the pandemic forced governments around the world to find ways to get stimulus money to their populations.

  • Gates said that gain should prove lasting and the importance of getting more money to women is particularly important.
  • "When the cash transfer payment goes into the hands of a woman, it's far more effective," Gates said. "She spends it on the health of her family. She spends it on food."
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