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IMF: Vaccines will power 5.5% global economic growth in 2021

FILE - In this Jan. 12, 2021, file photo Pharmacist Brian Kiefer draws saline while preparing a dose of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine at UC Davis Health in Sacramento, Calif. Mutations to the virus that causes COVID-19 are rapidly popping up and health officials say the pandemic could get worse unless people do more to curb cases. So far, vaccines seem to remain effective against the new variants, but the longer it takes to vaccinate people, the more likely it is that a virus that can elude defenses could emerge. (AP Photo/Noah Berger, Pool, File)

WASHINGTON — The spread of COVID-19 vaccines will power a stronger global economic recovery in 2021, the International Monetary Fund forecast Tuesday.

After sinking 3.5% in 2020, the worst year since World War II, the global economy will grow 5.5% this year, the 190-country lending organization predicted. The new figure for 2021 is an upgrade from the 5.2% expansion the IMF forecast in October and would mark the fastest year of global growth since the 2010 snapback from the financial crisis.

The vaccines should contain the spread of the virus and allow governments around the world to ease lockdowns and encourage a return to normal economic activity. But the IMF also says economies worldwide will need support from their governments to offset the damage from the pandemic and warns that coronavirus mutations could cloud the outlook for global health and economic growth.

In an update to its World Economic Outlook, the IMF said that it expects the U.S. economy — the world’s biggest — to expand 5.1% this year after collapsing 3.4% in 2020. No. 2 China is expected to record 8.1% growth after eking out a 2.3% increase in 2020.

The 19 countries European countries that share the euro currency will collectively register 4.2% growth this year after seeing economic output crater 7.2% in 2020, the IMF says. The Japanese economy is forecast to grow 3.1%, reversing a 5.1% decline in 2020.

The IMF gave India a big upgrade, thanks to a faster-than-expected recovery at its factories and farms: The Indian economy is forecast to expand 11.5% in 2021, fastest among major economies, and a turnaround from 2020’s decline of 8%.

The agency also expects global trade to rebound this year: recording 8.1% growth after falling 9.6% last year.

Paul Wiseman, The Associated Press