President of the World Bank Group, David Malpass, has described COVID-19 as a ‘devastating blow’ for the global economy, and warned that the fallout from the pandemic could last for a decade.

Malpass, an economist, who assumed the leadership of the bank in 2019, also said in an interview with BBC Radio 4 programme ‘The World This Weekend’, that the pandemic “has been a devastating blow for the economy.”

According to him, “The combination of the pandemic and the shutdowns have meant billions of people’s livelihoods have been disrupted. That’s concerning. Both the direct consequences, meaning lost income, but also then the health consequences, the social consequences, which are really harsh.

We can see that with the stock market in the United States being relatively high, yet people in poor countries are being not only unemployed, but unable to get any work even in the informal sector, and that’s going to have consequences for a decade.”

Although the World Bank is already providing support to the worst affected countries, it is calling on banks and pension funds to offer debt relief to developing countries.

Malpass told the BBC he would also like commercial lenders to make the terms of their loans clearer, so that investors can have more confidence when putting money into those economies.

Noting that the damage to global trade is a challenge, Malpass maintained that the ‘catastrophe’ could be overcome since people are ‘flexible and resilient’.

The World Bank chief further said: “I think it’s possible to find paths, it’s a great work for countries and governments to do that. But we can encourage that effort.

“As an optimist, over the long run, human nature is strong, and innovation is real. The world is moving fast and connectivity has never been higher, which gives hope for the future.”

Malpass had recently lamented that that the coronavirus crisis could push 60 million people into “extreme poverty”, which the World Bank defines as living on less than $1.90 per person per day.