The Covid-19 pandemic has driven nearly 37 million people into extreme poverty and reversed two decades of progress in vaccinating children against once-common childhood diseases, according to a new report by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
The number of people living in extreme poverty globally has risen 7.1% so far this year in the pandemic, according to the report published Monday.
The pandemic has also pushed the percentage of children who are vaccinated against diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis down to the level it was last at in 2000, according to data from the report. Vaccinations against other diseases have also fallen off, according to the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, which provided data for the Gates Foundation report.
“When you drop back into that extreme poverty, it is very hard to find your way out of it,” said Melinda Gates, who is co-chair of the foundation along with her husband, Bill Gates. She described the interruptions in vaccination as deeply concerning, particularly given vaccine hesitancy in some parts of the world.
The Gates Foundation’s “Goalkeepers” report takes stock annually of progress toward the United Nations sustainable development goals. Unlike previous reports celebrating progress fighting poverty and disease, Mr. and Mrs. Gates wrote, this year’s confronts a different reality.