Session Summary:  Winners & Losers of the Pandemic

Ángel Gurría, former Secretary General, Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development

Harry G. Broadman, Partner and Chair, Emerging Markets Practice, Berkeley Research Group LLC and Faculty, Johns Hopkins University, Washington, D.C.

Alexander Stubb, Director, School of Transnational Governance, European University Institute, Florence

Led by: Vazil Hudák, Vice Chair of the Board of Directors, GLOBSEC


The title of the session suggests that pandemic is a zero-sum game. However, the COVID-19 is truly a global problem and both, Mr Gurria and Mr Broadman argue that this crisis and its impact will be worse than the one of the financial crisis. Mr Gurria reminded us that “not even the most remote island was spared” and that “the scars of the pandemic will be with us much longer, even after we beat the pandemics”. Mr Stubb thinks that the victory or loss will be determined by what we would learn from the pandemic. He also emphasizes that despite all the countries being affected in terms of health, the long-lasting effects are and will be asymmetrical. We have to realize that both recovery and vaccination have two speeds - one in the developed countries and one in the developing countries, which are and probably will be much worse off.  

The pandemic also brings a lot of changes from how people work to how the services work. Mr Broadman stresses that in terms of structural areas like AI, digitalization or the shipping industry, the changes will accelerate, and we need to be ready for it. Mr Stubb mentions several winners of the pandemics, the biggest ones being science and global cooperation. It also brought a collective human experience that goes beyond the traditional (national) identity.  

Nevertheless, we have to bear in mind that recovery is still a work in progress, the pandemic is not over yet, especially for the Global South. The question is, what will the countries do next? Will there be a structural split between the Global North and Global South? Will we learn from the pandemic and turn it into a positive effect? Maybe the debate brought more questions than answers, but this only reflects the uncertainty that takes place across the world. The COVAX system is just a good start for handling the situation.