The Guardian view on the pandemic: a universal crisis is revealing our divisions | Editorial

The UK must tread carefully. While some countries seem to be emerging from the shadows, no one is safe when Covid spreads so freely

The pandemic has transformed the lives of billions around the globe, but beyond that common experience, it has highlighted and deepened divides rather than closed them. On Tuesday, the International Monetary Fund warned that inequality both within and between countries will not just persist, but increase this year. It predicted that rich western nations will recover faster than expected from the crisis due to successful vaccine programmes and the ability to increase public spending and borrowing, while developing countries will struggle; the number of people in extreme poverty last year was almost 95 million above pre-pandemic projections.

At the same time, a divide is opening up between places that are experiencing some kind of new normal, with large parts of life assuming a recognisable pattern – including China, where the virus first emerged – and those plunging deeper into disaster. New Zealand and Australia are planning to open a trans-Tasman travel bubble. In Taiwan – perhaps the greatest success story – crowds happily mingle. In Israel, where more than half the population has been fully vaccinated, daily life in some ways resembles pre-pandemic times for many – though Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza remain under tight rules with relatively high infection rates. The government has faced condemnation for not vaccinating millions living under its military control. (It inoculated 100,000 who work in Israel or its settlements.)

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