There is a lack of proper data regarding the gross domestic product (GDP) all over the world because of inadequate surveys in the pandemic time, says Dr Martin Rama, chief economist of the World Bank.
He has also found a significant gap between excess mortality and official Covid-19 deaths and other statistics in many countries.
Similarly, David Hulme, a Development Studies professor at the University of Manchester, has identified a serious lack of collecting and sharing of Covid-19 related data, particularly in South Asia.
Covid-19 has certainly caused problems for many governments in dealing with the crisis, but some governments have been hiding behind it and eroding transparency and accountability, he claimed at a panel discussion titled "Covid-19 Recovery: Contexts and Priorities – Developing Countries' Perspective" on Saturday.
Dr Selim Raihan, executive director of the South Asian Network on Economic Modeling (Sanem), moderated the final session of the three-day long Sanem International Development Conference 2021.
Both experts expressed concerns over the impacts of Covid-19 on lives and livelihoods at the event and also discussed rising income inequality, education, and vaccinations.
According to Dr Rama, mortality in the first wave of Covid-19 was frequently higher than what Covid-19 deaths suggest – not all countries have the same ability to test and classify deaths.
The gap between excess mortality and official Covid-19 deaths was seen to be larger in Latin American countries, he added.
He also stated that Latin America had the greatest decline in GDP in the developing world, with South Asia being the only other comparable region.
Dr Rama questioned how accurate GDP numbers currently are, and briefly mentioned an initiative he has taken with his team to measure economic activities using satellite images.
The measurement of economic activity has become more difficult because of the pandemic, he said, adding that there is no clear measure of how to account for people working from home and the impact on productivity.
Talking about the longer-term impacts of the Covid-19 crisis, the World Bank chief economist said pervasive school closures undermine learning. Distance learning may partially offset the loss, but it is not universally available. The learning impact is more severe for children from poorer households, and many may become detached from the education system and not return.
At the event, Prof Hulme stated that approximately six million children in Bangladesh have been negatively impacted by learning loss, which will have long-term implications for literacy and numeracy.
He emphasised both private action at the household level and community action at the public level to ensure the supply of a skilled workforce, which is needed for economic progress.
He also emphasised the importance of taking into account the foregone healthcare among patients in both high-income and low-income countries, who did not receive treatment during the pandemic.
In the absence of strong global leadership in the pandemic, the world is becoming more unequal, and climate change is emerging as a major issue.
Prof Hulme also said the world now has 88-115 million more poor people as a result of the pandemic. The progress that had been made in extreme poverty reduction over the last 30 years has been reversed.
"Within countries, poor people have been much less effective in managing the pandemic owing to fewer resources, fewer social networks, lower access to public goods and services and lower savings. In turn, this has led to deepening inequality across the globe," the Development Studies professor said.
"Science and knowledge creation are intertwined with politics, and relationships have deepened in some ways, so that scientific knowledge can be applied but sometimes is controlled, so that scientific knowledge sharing is discouraged when it does not meet the needs of the political elites," he added.
"In high-income countries, approximately one in every four people is double-vaccinated or single-vaccinated, whereas in low-income countries, less than one in every 500 people is vaccinated. There is an incredibly stark gap between the international collaboration that created the vaccines and the one that ensured access to the vaccines," Prof Hulme explained.
He suggested conducting more research to explore the socioeconomic impacts of Covid-19, with a special focus on the poor and disadvantaged groups of the global population.
He also stated that data collection and sharing has always been a challenge, especially in South Asia, and that it is past time for governments and researchers to collaborate to improve data collection.
Over the three days of the conference, a total of 29 research papers related to the impact of the pandemic were presented by researchers across the globe.
The conference also created a platform for economists and personalities to engage in intellectual discussions and share their insights on emerging socioeconomic issues and suggest ways to ensure a smooth recovery.