As the COVID-19 pandemic started to exact a toll on lives and livelihoods in early 2020, countries imposed strict lockdowns to stem the spread of infections, disrupting economies and societies across the world. With pandemic-induced constraints on in-person interactions, many countries adopted a “digital first” approach to delivering social assistance, primarily cash transfers.
CGD Policy Blogs
Anit Mukherjee of CGD, Pam Dixon of World Privacy Forum, and Camilla Ravnbøl of the University of Copenhagen discuss how vaccine certificates work, what challenges they pose, and how to make sure no one gets left behind.
As governments worldwide increase their COVID-19 vaccination coverage, COVID-19 vaccination certificates (CVCs) are making headlines as a possible answer to the question of how to reopen economies safely. While countries like Israel and Estonia are well advanced in introducing CVCs, developing countries, as with their vaccination rates, are further behind. In especially interconnected developing regions like Southeast Asia, CVCs present unprecedented collaboration challenges, including that of coordination and trust.
As economies start opening up, the COVID Vaccine Certificate is increasingly becoming a ticket to return to normality, lifting restrictions on work, travel and leisure. Because of the formidable constraints, any US path to a CVC should start with a light touch.
Can technology help? At the most basic level, a COVID ID would be a digitized version of the Yellow Card, the paper-based International Certificate of Vaccination or Prophylaxis that many international travelers carry with them traveling to and from high-risk areas of the world.
In response to COVID's economic disruption, many countries launched unprecedented relief packages to cushion the economic and social impact of the pandemic. Social protection measures have grown exponentially. In a new policy paper, we draw on early evidence from selected countries on the use of digital technology to implement these government-to-people (G2P) social transfer programs. Our review suggests that an important objective for policymakers in the post-COVID period will be to build on the capabilities developed during the crisis to strengthen social protection and payment systems and render them more inclusive, effective, and sustainable.
The COVID-19 pandemic has underlined the need for a universal and portable social protection system that can uniquely verify people and deliver benefits efficiently and at scale. In most cases, existing programs are not portable, meaning those who live and work in a place other than where they are registered—like many who have migrated domestically for work—are unable to access benefits.
India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh sustain critical social safety net programs which, despite implementation challenges, deliver social assistance at scale. This blog offers an initial view on the ways in which these programs are being scaled up to provide social assistance during COVID-19.
The COVID-19 response amounts to a significant expansion in the scale and scope of direct cash transfers as well as other social assistance—a huge increase in government-to-people (G2P) payments. As we explain in our new report, delivering on these programs will require an enormous increase in the capacity of states to implement them.
Can We Use Digital Technology to Cushion the Pandemic’s Blow—and in the Longer Run, Deliver on the SDGs?
As the world grapples with COVID-19, many countries have announced cash transfers. Delivering will require an enormous increase in state capacity to make payments to citizens.