The economic side effects of COVID-19 have been worse for some poorer people than the actual virus, a United Nations official has said.
UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi warned refugees, displaced and stateless people had lost opportunities to make money to survive due to lockdowns around the world.
“Where I think the impact has been quite dramatic and we see it in many parts of the world. Has been more on the economic side. On the side-effects of COVID and lockdowns,” he said during a live Q and A session on Wednesday organised by the World Health Organization.
“Because communities like those that are refugees, displaced, stateless people. They’re often depending on the type of employment that is the first one to disappear in lockdowns.
“Very short term jobs, precarious jobs and the impact that we see widespread around the world on the economic side is particularly felt in these communities.”
The panel, which included Executive Director of WHO Health Emergencies Programme Dr Mike Ryan and Health Emergency Officer WHO Teresa Zakaria, also discussed the effect of COVID on developing nations.
They agreed existing weaknesses in those countries had been amplified by the virus, and the pandemic had shown cracks and defects that already existed.
The panel urged European nations to do more by taking in extra refugees as they only hosted a few hundred of them each, but other poorer countries were taking in millions.
They also stressed the importance of vaccinating all health workers and vulnerable people worldwide to defeat COVID-19.
The WHO’s global vaccine-sharing scheme COVAX delivered its first shots on Wednesday as the race to inoculate the world's poorest people and tame the pandemic accelerates.
Watch: Jordan sets up refugee vaccination centre
Almost a year after the WHO described the novel coronavirus as a global pandemic, a flight carrying 600,000 doses of the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine produced by the Serum Institute of India landed in Ghana's capital Accra.
Local representatives of the WHO and the UN's children's agency UNICEF described the vaccines' arrival as a "momentous" step.
The roll-out in Ghana is a milestone for COVAX, which is trying to narrow a politically sensitive gap between the millions being vaccinated in wealthier countries and the comparatively few who have received shots in less developed parts of the world.
It plans to deliver nearly 2 billion doses this year, including 1.8 billion to poorer countries at no cost to their governments, and to cover up to 20% of countries' populations.
But it will not be sufficient for nations to reach herd immunity and effectively contain the spread of the virus.