By Malcolm Scott
The delta variant is challenging the part of the world that’s been most successful in blunting the economic impact of Covid-19.
Just 12 months ago, the Asia-Pacific region’s rapid containment of Covid-19 made them the envy of the world as the virus ravaged the U.S. and Europe.
Now, from Seoul to Sydney, Bangkok to Beijing, authorities are reimposing growth-sapping restrictions as low vaccination rates in many of those places leave their populations vulnerable.
So far, it’s consumers who are bearing the brunt. The central bank in Australia, where two-thirds of the population are confined at home after delta slipped through the strict travel quarantine system, estimates spending drops about 15% during lockdowns.
China is imposing internal travel and movement restrictions in the middle of the summer break as infections return to places like Wuhan and Beijing, prompting reductions in forecasts for economic growth. Cases there jumped to a six-month high on Friday of 101 infections, with delta reaching regions that account for 38% of national gross domestic product.