Ireland and the rest of the EU risk a higher number of business failures and long-term scarring of unemployment than is necessary because of the relatively slow roll-out of Covid-19 vaccines, Goodbody chief economist Dermot O'Leary has warned.
The warning comes as Britain stepped up its bet that a swift application of its vaccination programme will help lift the worst of its latest round of strict economic restrictions designed to get the pandemic under control.
In terms of the Irish economy, Mr O'Leary said that the key issue over the coming months will be the level of restrictions and getting vaccines out as quickly as possible to soften the damage.
However, Mr O'Leary said that it appears that on the current plans that only 30% of over 70s will be vaccinated by end of February, implying a roll-out rate that is much slower than in Britain and that risks Ireland ending up with a higher level of business failures and long-term unemployment than necessary.
The roll-out deserves a lot of effort by the Government and a high level of public scrutiny, he said.
At the moment the EU is the laggard for various reasons in rolling out the vaccines.
"The bottom line is the slower it takes in rolling out the vaccines, the slower the recovery will be in the economy and the labour market," Mr O'Leary said.
"That is why it matters, and it matters a lot," he said.
Meanwhile, this year’s global economic rebound from the deepest recession since World War II will be slightly slower than previously expected amid a resurgence in virus cases across advanced economies, the World Bank said.
GDP will expand 4% in 2021, less than the 4.2% forecast in June, followed by 3.8% growth in 2022, the Washington-based lender said in its semi-annual Global Economic Prospects report.
The US and eurozone forecasts were lowered while the China growth projection rose by 1 percentage point to 7.9%.
The development lender cited an “exceptional level of uncertainty” about the near-term outlook for the best growth since 2010 after an estimated 4.3% contraction last year. The pandemic also may reduce potential global growth over a decade unless governments improve business climates, education and productivity.