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Genomic Pathogen Surveillance in the Spotlight

Over the last decade, huge advances in technology have made genomic sequencing cheaper and more accessible, facilitating the tracking of bacteria, viruses,…

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The COVID-19 pandemic has really highlighted the need for effective genomic pathogen surveillance and allowed researchers around the world to hone their skills and technology. While these advances are not in doubt, whether they are maintained and used to help prevent new pandemics and fight global threats such as antimicrobial resistance remains to be seen.

Sharon Peakock
Professor of Public Health and Microbiology
University of Cambridge

Over the last decade, huge advances in technology have made genomic sequencing cheaper and more accessible, facilitating the tracking of bacteria, viruses, and other pathogens. According to Sharon Peacock, Professor of Public Health and Microbiology at the University of Cambridge and Executive Director and Chair of the COVID-19 Genomics consortium, this kind of pathogen surveillance really started in earnest 10 years ago.

“That’s when people had access to instruments; the price, the availability and the ease of use that changed in the 2012–2014 period was a pivot point,” she told Inside Precision Medicine.

This was also the time that the intention to complete the 100,000 Genomes Project was announced by then U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron. Infectious diseases was one of the three focus areas for the project and Peacock was asked to head up this working group.

“I chaired the pathogen genome sequencing committee to decide what the priorities were. I think that for the U.K., at least, that was the turning point for us, because we then reached a conclusion that number one was tuberculosis… we also suggested that deep sequencing of HIV was really important to look for rare variants that were resistant to antiretroviral therapy.”

While the initial focus of fledgling genomic pathogen surveillance groups was more on pathogens such as Mycobacterium tuberculosis, events in the following few years helped highlight shortcomings and develop this area.

In late 2013 there was an outbreak of lethal haemorrhagic fever epidemic in Guinea. By the time it was found to be Ebola, it had spread to three more African countries, with sporadic cases in Europe and the U.S, and had become the largest Ebola outbreak on record. Similarly, the Zika virus outbreak of 2015–2016 was not picked up by surveillance systems until it had spread across South America causing microcephaly in infants and other neurological conditions.

A number of researchers started using sequencing to track and trace infections during the Ebola epidemic, for example, using the portable MinION sequencing machine developed by Oxford Nanopore Technologies.

Pablo Tsukayama
Pablo Tsukayama
Assistant Professor at Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia

“I think the Ebola outbreak showed the potential that this could be done,” commented Pablo Tsukayama, an assistant professor at Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia in Lima, Peru, who specializes in pathogen surveillance.

However, despite earlier calls for a ‘genomics-informed, real-time, global pathogen surveillance system’ to improve pandemic preparedness, many places remained relatively unprepared for the COVID-19 pandemic when it began in late 2019. Despite this, researchers, healthcare professionals and public health systems around the world have seized the opportunity to showcase the power of science, developing vaccines, treatments, and a range of diagnostics, and also demonstrating how improving genomic pathogen surveillance can have dramatic lifesaving effects.

“I think that SARS-CoV-2 was a fantastic example of why you need it. I mean, you couldn’t get a better case study than that,” emphasized Peacock.

It is tempting to speculate that the sheer scale of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic will have long lasting, and hopefully beneficial, effects on genomic pathogen surveillance. For example, this March the World Health Organization (WHO) released a 10-year strategy for genomic surveillance of pathogens. But whether the energy of scientific endeavour in this area will continue long-term and in what form remains to be seen.

Tracking COVID-19: a task of mammoth proportions

The U.K. has a strong history of genomic sequencing innovation and research and was one of the first places to implement a system for sequencing SARS-CoV-2 after the COVID-19 pandemic began, something Peacock was instrumental in setting up.

The COVID-19 Genomics UK (COG-UK) consortium was formed in March 2020. “I pulled together a group of scientists in the Wellcome building on Euston Road… We put together a blueprint over the course of the day and wrote an application. It went to Patrick Vallance, chief scientific adviser to the U.K. Government, and it was funded by the first of April,” explained Peacock.

“We had 21 different sequencing sites… we just contacted everyone who we thought could do it. They had the instruments, the capability, the willingness to do it. We had 16 academic institutions across the country, four public health agencies, and the Wellcome Sanger Institute. We were at the starting blocks very early.”

Catalina Lopez-Correa
Catalina Lopez-Correa
Chief Scientific Officer
Genome Canada

Catalina Lopez-Correa is currently Chief Scientific Officer of Genome Canada, a government funded non-profit research organization using genomics to find answers to problems of national interest such as health, the environment, and sustainable resources.

After the COVID-19 pandemic began she helped found and was executive director of the Canadian COVID-19 Genomics Network (CanCOGeN). An initial aim of the group was to sequence 150,000 viral samples from people testing positive for COVID-19, as part of the VirusSeq project.

“We more than doubled the target. And that illustrates why this is important, because really, it allows us to have a whole different level of understanding of infectious diseases by using genomics,” Lopez-Correa told Inside Precision Medicine.

“This is quite unique from a scientific perspective to have the opportunity to really see a pandemic real time… To see how the virus is evolving, see the new mutations that are being generated, the distribution of the virus, the distribution of those variants.”

Both Peacock and Lopez-Correa recognise that the UK and Canada were well set up from a research and financial point of view to carry out extensive genomic surveillance during the pandemic.

“The UK has been leading the way,” said Lopez-Correa. “The U.S., I think, was interesting, because they had such an immense capacity. But they were very fragmented, they didn’t really coordinate with a single initiative, whereas Canada in that sense, with CAN-COGEN, was not perfect, but we were able to coordinate our efforts in a very strategic way.”

Western countries were not the only ones to shine when it comes to genomic surveillance. “South Africa, in particular, I think, should really be mentioned,” emphasized Lopez-Correa, noting that they were the first country to report the Omicron variant. “They did a lot of training, a lot of data sharing, and they helped set up the African Pathogen Genomics Initiative, which I think is a critical effort.”

South American researchers also stepped up to help track SARS-CoV-2. Tsukayama, who also has an association with the Wellcome Sanger Institute in the U.K., was well placed to help lead efforts in Peru.

“I was looking at bacterial pathogens that are relevant to Peru, mostly antibiotic-resistant infections in hospitals, tuberculosis, which is a big deal here, and some other minor pathogens. But then when COVID struck, we had all the tools, we had the knowledge, so it was easy to study these new emerging pathogens,” he explained.

“It was very clear at that point that this was what we should be doing and our lab was in a good position to do so.” Noting the difference in resources between Peru and a country like the U.K. he added “at the time, there was probably 5–10 sequencing instruments in the entire country. We needed funds, so the Peruvian government openened up an emergency call for related projects. By mid-April 2020 we were already setting everything up.”

Despite having small amounts of resources compared with other places, Tsukayama and colleagues identified a new variant known as Lambda during the pandemic, which subsequently spread to around 40 countries, but did not dominate the variant scene.

Returning to bacterial origins

Although COVID-19 has dominated headlines since early 2020, it is important to remember that many other disease-causing microbes exist. One expanding area of genomic pathogen surveillance is in tracking food-borne illnesses such as those caused by pathogenic Escherichia coli, Salmonella, and Listeria monocytogenes bacteria.

In May 2019, two patients in North West England died from infection with L.monocytogenes bacteria. After it was revealed that they were both in hospital when they were infected and had been exposed to the same food sources, an investigation was launched.

“Public Health England was sequencing listeria routinely. And they got a match for two isolates, by chance,” explained Peacock. “They were from patients in hospitals that were completely geographically separate, but in time, were quite linked… In terms of the number of cases, it hadn’t exceeded anything. It didn’t flag as an exceedance in numbers, but they were identical. And that, by chance, would be very unlikely.”

The investigation found listeria in the sandwiches that were given to patients in the hospitals and resulted in the closure of a factory providing sandwiches to a group of NHS hospitals. “It’s a really nice case example of how you can use sequencing to detect an outbreak before anyone spots that the cases are linked,” notes Peacock.

Gemma Langridge
Gemma Langridge
Group Leader
Quadram Institut

Gemma Langridge is a group leader at the Quadram Institute in Norwich, affiliated with the University of East Anglia, and has a focus on bacterial pathogen monitoring and research. She highlighted the importance of genomic pathogen surveillance for monitoring antimicrobial resistance (AMR) in different bacterial strains, something the WHO are encouraging countries, regions, and organizations to set up.

“We need to understand what reservoirs of AMR are present in the environment and in the food chain, because it’s impacting on animal husbandry practices, but also how we treat in the clinic. Knowing what sort of background resistance there might be, or reduced susceptibility to certain treatments is important,” she emphasized.

One of the pathogens Langridge works with is Salmonella species that carry AMR genes. “With Salmonella typhi we’re now seeing extensive drug resistance, which was first identified in Pakistan… global travel means that this is now being identified in people coming back from these regions,” she explained.

Quadrum Institute building
Quadrum Institute

“Places like the U.K. Health Security Agency have started to flag that these are coming into the country. We need to have clinical guidance and protocols in place so that we can deal with them, even though they’re not endemic here, that can recognize that these are organisms that we are coming into contact with and know how to treat them appropriately.”

Pandemic take-home messages

Out of necessity, a huge amount of time, effort, and money has been poured into genomic pathogen surveillance during the pandemic, but the experts have learned a lot during this time. Peacock hopes one thing that will come out of the pandemic is evidence to show that genomic pathogen sequencing is cost effective to allow it to become more devolved and accessible.

“The next level of maturity, I think, for using sequencing is actually starting to roll it out into other places. If we’d centralized sequencing during the pandemic, it would have been very slow. You can get the turnaround times right down if you devolve the sequencing and get it done locally.”

She also highlights that currently sequencing can actually cost more in low- and middle-income countries than in high income countries like the U.K. “You start to deal with intermediaries who have their own costs, so to sequence in a low-income country will cost you much more than to sequence in the U.K., which is the other way around to what it should be.”

Tsukayama agrees and adds that simple logistics can also get in the way. “Nanopore is great. And I’ve been trying to push for the adoption of the technology, but just getting the reagents and machines adds a layer of problems here because I think you have to buy directly from the manufacturer and importing is difficult. Whereas Illumina is very well established in the region. There’s distributors and it’s easy to get reagents from them.”

He also says it is important to invest in research and monitoring systems in areas where new infection risk is high. “Many studies and predictions and models keep saying that the Amazon rainforest is a hotspot for zoonosis and likely a place where something new might jump into humans, so I’ve been pushing this idea that the region in general has to be prepared for this and have the tools, the protocols, the trained personnel and laboratory capacities, to do this sampling,” he emphasized.

“I think they have to put the resources where these things are likely to emerge. It’s great that you have all these setups in the United States, in the U.K, or in Europe, but it is likely to emerge elsewhere. And it’s in everyone’s best interest to fund these things.”

Lopez-Correa agrees about logistics, for example, ensuring everyone can sequence and access the tools they need, when they need them; but says data sharing and data analytics were also highlighted as areas needing more attention during the pandemic. “We have plenty of technologies to do good and fast sequencing so that was not the bottleneck in itself,” she explained. Genome Canada worked with a local health tech company, DNAstack to help improve data analytics and safe data sharing during the pandemic. The company has since been recognized for its work by the World Economic Forum.

Mark Fiume
Mark Fiume, CEO at DNAstack

“We now understand the importance of genomic pathogen surveillance in general. But it’s not enough to just sequence the data. You have to share it in real time,” Mark Fiume, DNAstack CEO, told Inside Precision Medicine.

“We think that the best approach to sharing data is using a federated model. And what we mean by federated is kind of like the Internet where you don’t bring all the data into one database with one custodian. It’s rather a sort of mesh, an internet of genomics and health data.”

Viral AI Insights by DNAstack
Viral AI Insights: a real-time dashboard developed by DNAstack used by government decision makers throughout the pandemic to analyze emerging variants of concern.

Fiume and colleagues provided valuable data sharing and data analytics services to researchers and public health authorities during the pandemic with the help of their internal bioinformatics capability and their federated machine learning platform. As a result of their success, the company has now tripled in size and is now working to provide access to this kind of service to different countries and regions around the world including lower- and middle-income areas.

“Every single night we reprocessed raw genetic sequence data, regardless of what format it was in, into some very consistent kind of variant calling assembly lineage assignment,” explained Fiume. “We did the things that we thought that the community would need as a resource to really create an immaculate dataset of genomic information on SARS-CoV-2.”

This kind of service is very important, particularly in areas where expert bioinformaticians and high-powered computers are in short supply. “We don’t have great training in bioinformatics,” says Tsukayama. “The fact that a lot of folks that do are putting free, web based, very easy to follow black boxes online that will analyze data… that’s a huge plus and makes things a lot easier.”

According to the experts, increasingly people working in genomic pathogen surveillance are using a hybrid sequencing model of both short (normally Illumina) and long read (normally Oxford Nanopore) sequencing to encompass a wider range of pathogens with both long and shorter genomes and also a range of different mutations.

Fire Monkey HMW-DNA Extraction
Fire Monkey HMW-DNA Extraction [RevoluGen]

Langridge has been working with a local biotech company to help make the longer read pathogen sequencing that she and her team are doing easier. RevoluGen has pioneered a method to extract longer sections of DNA from samples using their quick and easy Fire Monkey High Molecular Weight DNA extraction system, which works like a standard spin column kit.

“Any other spin column kit will extract DNA with an average of between 30,000 to 40,000 base pairs, where the fire monkey spin column kit goes between 100,000-120,000 base pairs on average.

Georgios Patsos
Georgios Patsos, CSO
RevoluGen

So, there’s a real difference,” explained RevoluGen CSO Georgios Patsos. “It just happens that this kind of average is also a ‘sweet spot’ for nanopore sequencing.”

The company has worked with Langridge and other researchers during the pandemic to automate their system to allow much higher throughput and speed at the same quality.

Pandemic preparedness 2.0

The big question on everyone’s lips right now is how to use the knowledge gained during the COVID-19 pandemic to try and prevent or at least better control the next pandemic. Also, can pathogen monitoring and research momentum be maintained amid waning cases, funding, and interest?

Lopez-Correa and her Canadian colleagues are looking at how to use the information and experience they gained over the last two years to help prevent future pandemics. “We are now creating a national alliance for pathogen surveillance for Canada… we are starting to have the meetings and it is going to be with all the public health labs and academic institutions. It’s a bit of a transformation of our network.”

COG-UK is actively trying to pass on the knowledge they learned during the pandemic by running a number of online courses using distributed classrooms. Peacock thinks collaboration and working as a team, as well as with international colleagues, can really help drive pandemic preparedness and management.

“The genome data is the starting point. In the U.K., that was very joined up [during the pandemic]. There was a viral genotype to phenotype consortium led by Wendy Barclay. There was an immunology consortium led by Paul Moss. And then of course, we had the Office for National Statistics surveys, where the sequencing could kind of support that. But team science was really key and collaboration and interdisciplinarity were fundamental to the success of the science in the U.K.”

Fiume and his colleagues at DNAstack are also working to promote teamwork and collaboration around the world. “We want to democratize access to technology to low- and middle-income countries as much as we empowered Canada. We want to make sure that everyone has access to this technology so that we’re all working together on these kinds of things.”

Like many other organizations and public health authorities in the U.S. and around the world, CanCOGeN is using pooled wastewater testing to continue monitoring in a cheaper and less invasive way and to check for other pathogens. “Instead of looking just for SARS-CoV-2, we are using these tools and thinking about pathogen surveillance in a much broader way. We have monkey pox, we have influenza, we have other pathogens that we should be also worried about,” says Lopez-Correa.

Langridge agrees and adds “some of the surveillance mechanisms that have started because of COVID, things like wastewater surveillance, mean we don’t just have to focus on what’s coming out of hospitals, we can look in the environment, we can look in food. That’s something that we’ve been doing on a research level for a while, but to get that recognition more widely, I think, is a positive.”

 

Helen Albert is senior editor at Inside Precision Medicine and a freelance science journalist. She has academic degrees in genetics and anthropology.

The post Genomic Pathogen Surveillance in the Spotlight appeared first on Inside Precision Medicine.

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Decrease in Japanese children’s ability to balance during movement related to COVID-19 activity restrictions

A team of researchers from Nagoya University in central Japan investigated how restrictions on children’s activities during the COVID-19 pandemic affected…

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A team of researchers from Nagoya University in central Japan investigated how restrictions on children’s activities during the COVID-19 pandemic affected their life habits and their abilities to perform physical activities. By comparing medical examination data before and after the onset of the pandemic, they found that physical functions among adolescents deteriorated, including their dynamic balance. They also found that the children had higher body fat levels and worse life habits. Rather than a lack of exercise time, this may have been because of a lack of quality exercise due to activity restrictions.  

Credit: Credit must be given when image is used

A team of researchers from Nagoya University in central Japan investigated how restrictions on children’s activities during the COVID-19 pandemic affected their life habits and their abilities to perform physical activities. By comparing medical examination data before and after the onset of the pandemic, they found that physical functions among adolescents deteriorated, including their dynamic balance. They also found that the children had higher body fat levels and worse life habits. Rather than a lack of exercise time, this may have been because of a lack of quality exercise due to activity restrictions.  

During the COVID-19 pandemic, in Japan, as in other countries, schools and sports clubs tried to prevent the spread of infection by reducing physical education and restricting outdoor physical activities, club activities, and sports. However, children who are denied opportunities for physical activity with social elements may develop bad habits. During the pandemic, children, like adults, increased the time they spent looking at television, smartphone, and computer screens, exercised less, and slept less. Such changes in lifestyle can harm adolescent bodies, leading to weight gain and health problems. 

Visiting Researcher Tadashi Ito and Professor Hideshi Sugiura from the Department of Biological Functional Science at the Nagoya University Graduate School of Medicine, together with Dr. Yuji Ito from the Department of Pediatrics at Nagoya University Hospital, and  Dr. Nobuhiko Ochi and Dr. Koji Noritake from Aichi Prefectural Mikawa Aoitori Medical and Rehabilitation Center for Developmental Disabilities, conducted a study of Japanese children and students in elementary and junior high schools, aged 9-15, by analyzing data from physical examinations before and during the COVID-19 pandemic. They evaluated the children’s muscle strength, dynamic balance functions, walking speed, body fat percentage, screen time, sleep time, quality of life, and physical activity time.  

The researchers found that after the onset of the pandemic, children were more likely to have decreased balance ability when moving, larger body fat percentage, report spending more time looking at TV, computers or smartphones, and sleep less. Since there were no changes in the time spent on physical activity or the number of meals eaten, Sugiura and his colleagues suggest that the worsening of physical functions was related to the quality of exercise of the children. The researchers reported their findings in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health.  

“Since the outbreak of the novel coronavirus in Japan after April 2020, children have not been able to engage in sufficient physical education, sports activities, and outdoor play at school. It became clear that balance ability during movement was easily affected, lifestyle habits were disrupted, and the percentage of body fat was likely to increase,” explained Ito. “This may have been because of shorter outdoor playtime and club activities, which impeded children’s ability to learn the motor skills necessary to balance during movement.” 

“Limitations on children’s opportunities for physical activity because of the outbreak of the novel coronavirus have had a significant impact on the development of physical function and lifestyle and may cause physical deterioration and health problems in the future,” warned Ito. “Especially, the risk of injury to children may increase because of a reduced dynamic balance function.” 

The results suggest that even after the novel coronavirus becomes endemic, it is important to consider the effects of social restrictions on the body composition of adolescents. Since physical activities with a social element may be important for health, authorities should prioritize preventing the reduction of children’s physical inactivity and actively encourage them to play outdoors and exercise. The group has some recommendations for families worried about the effects of school closings and other coronavirus measures on their children. “It is important for children to practice dynamic balance ability, maintaining balance to avoid falling over while performing movements,” Ito advised. “To improve balance function in children, it is important to incorporate enhanced content, such as short-term exercise programs specifically designed to improve balance functions.” 


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Contradictions, Lies, And “I Don’t Recalls”: The Fauci Deposition

Contradictions, Lies, And "I Don’t Recalls": The Fauci Deposition

Authored by Techno Fog via The Reactionary,

Today, Missouri Attoney General…

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Contradictions, Lies, And "I Don't Recalls": The Fauci Deposition

Authored by Techno Fog via The Reactionary,

Today, Missouri Attoney General Eric Schmitt released the transcript of the testimony of Dr. Anthony Fauci. As you might recall, Fauci was deposed as part of an ongoing federal lawsuit challenging the Biden Administration’s violations of the First Amendment in targeting and suppressing the speech of Americans who challenged the government’s narrative on COVID-19.

Here is the Fauci deposition transcript.

And here are the highlights…

EcoHealth Alliance - the Peter Daszak group - is knee-deep in the Wuhan controversy, having been funded by the Fauci’s NIH for coronavirus and gain of function research in China (and having worked with the Chinese team in Wuhan). What does Fauci say about EcoHealth Alliance? Over two years after the COVID-19 pandemic began, and after millions dead worldwide, he’s “vaguely familiar” with their work.

In early 2020, Fauci was put on notice that his group - NIAID - had funded EcoHealth alliance on bat coronavirus research for the past five years.

This coincided with early reports - directly to Fauci, from Jeremy Ferrar and Christian Anderson - “of the possibility of there being a manipulation of the virus” based on the fact that “it was an unusual virus.”

Fauci conceded that he was specifically made aware by Anderson that “the unusual features of the virus” make it look “potentially engineered.”

Fauci couldn’t recall why he sent an article discussing gain of function research in China to his deputy, Hugh Auchincloss, telling him it was essential that they speak on the phone. He couldn’t recall speaking with Auchincloss via phone that day. But remarkably, Fauci did remember assigning research tasks to Auchincloss

Fauci was evasive on conversations with Francis Collins about whether NIAID may have funded coronavirus-related research in China, eventually stating “I don’t recall.”

The phrase “I don’t recall” was prominent in Fauci’s deposition. He said it a total of 174 times:

For example, Fauci couldn’t remember what anyone said on a call discussing whether the virus originated in a lab:

During that same call, Fauci couldn’t recall whether anyone expressed concern that the lab leak “might discredit scientific funding projects.” He also couldn’t recall whether there was a discussion about a lab leak distracting from the virus response. Fauci did remember, however, that they agreed there needed to be more time to investigate the virus origins - including the lab leak theory.

What else couldn’t Fauci remember? Whether, early into the pandemic, his confidants raised concerns about social media posts about the origins of COVID-19.

Yet Fauci did admit he was concerned about social media posts blaming China for the pandemic. He even admitted the accidental lab leak “certainly is a possibility,” contradicting his prior claims to National Geographic where he said the virus “could not have been artificially or deliberately manipulated.”

Fauci also couldn’t recall whether he had any conversations with Daszak about the origins of COVID-19 in February 2020, but admitted those conversations might have happened: “I told you before that I did not remember any direct conversations with him about the origin, and I said I very well might have had conversations but I don't specifically remember conversations.” And he couldn’t recall telling the media early on during the pandemic that the virus was consistent with a jump “from an animal to a human.”

Fauci said he was in the dark on social media actions to curb speech and suspend accounts that posted COVID-19 information that didn’t fit the mainstream narrative: “I’m not aware of suppression of speech on social media.” Yet it was Fauci’s proclamations of the truth, whether about the origins of COVID-19 to the effectiveness of hydroxychloroquine, that led to social media companies banning discussions of contrary information.

Regarding those removals of content, Fauci had no personal knowledge of a US Government/Social Media effort to curb “misinformation.” But he conceded the possibility numerous times.

Then there’s the issue of masks. In February 2020, Fauci informed an acquaintance that was traveling: “I do not recommend that you wear a mask.” Fauci would later become a vocal proponent of masks only two months later.

I’m near my Substack length limit - posting the excerpts does that - but you can see from Fauci’s testimony that his public statements about COVID-19 origins and the necessity to wear a mask didn’t match his private conversations. This has been known for some time, but it’s finally nice to get him on record.

Again, read it all and subscribe here.

Tyler Durden Mon, 12/05/2022 - 21:40

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Global Wages Take A Hit As Inflation Eats Into Paychecks

Global Wages Take A Hit As Inflation Eats Into Paychecks

The global inflation crisis paired with lackluster economic growth and an outlook…

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Global Wages Take A Hit As Inflation Eats Into Paychecks

The global inflation crisis paired with lackluster economic growth and an outlook clouded by uncertainties have led to a decline in real wages around the world, a new report published by the International Labour Organization (ILO) has found.

As Statista's Felix Richter reports, according to the 2022-23 Global Wage Report, global real monthly wages fell 0.9 percent this year on average, marking the first decline in real earnings at a global scale in the 21st century.

You will find more infographics at Statista

The multiple global crises we are facing have led to a decline in real wages.

"It has placed tens of millions of workers in a dire situation as they face increasing uncertainties,” ILO Director-General Gilbert F. Houngbo said in a statement, adding that “income inequality and poverty will rise if the purchasing power of the lowest paid is not maintained.”

While inflation rose faster in high-income countries, leading to above-average real wage declines in North America (minus 3.2 percent) and the European Union (minus 2.4 percent), the ILO finds that low-income earners are disproportionately affected by rising inflation. As lower-wage earners spend a larger share of their disposable income on essential goods and services, which generally see greater price increases than non-essential items, those who can least afford it suffer the biggest cost-of-living impact of rising prices.

“We must place particular attention to workers at the middle and lower end of the pay scale,” Rosalia Vazquez-Alvarez, one of the report’s authors said.

“Fighting against the deterioration of real wages can help maintain economic growth, which in turn can help to recover the employment levels observed before the pandemic. This can be an effective way to lessen the probability or depth of recessions in all countries and regions,” she said.

Tyler Durden Mon, 12/05/2022 - 20:00

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