Long Covid refers to debilitating symptoms of the coronavirus that persist after convalescence. It will be a factor in global community health long after the pandemic is declared over. But in the longer term it may have less impact than another hangover of Covid-19 – an explosion in poverty around the world. Dark chapters in history rarely have a silver lining for the vulnerable poor. They stand to gain less and lose more. The pandemic is an example. A study by the charity Oxfam for the World Economic Forum says that while the world’s 10 wealthiest people more than doubled their fortunes from US$700 billion to US$1.5 trillion during the pandemic, and a new billionaire was created almost daily, about 160 million more people were pushed into poverty. Oxfam chief Gabriela Bucher put it another way: “If these 10 men were to lose 99.999 per cent of their wealth tomorrow, they would still be richer than 99 per cent of all the people on this planet. They now have six times more wealth than the poorest 3.1 billion people.” How did this happen? Oxfam does advocate for the poor and underprivileged, but it claims that much of the trillions of dollars central banks pumped into economies during the pandemic simply drove a stock market boom, and that governments failed to ensure vaccine supplies to billions of people. “The result is [the risk of] every kind of inequality imaginable rising,” the global charity said. Oxfam is not alone in its concerns. Before Covid, inequality was increasingly seen around the world as the biggest threat to social, political and economic stability, even in the biggest and wealthiest countries, as evidenced by homelessness in parts of the United States. Global concern about the implications of pervasive inequality provides context and background that helps understand why President Xi Jinping made the policy of “common prosperity” – to evenly distribute wealth – a priority for China. The concept of common prosperity dates back to socialist reforms of the 1950s. World’s rich doubled fortunes to US$1.5 trillion during pandemic, Oxfam says Nowadays, it reflects the government’s efforts to narrow the income gap over time through voluntary sharing in the opportunity to be wealthy, more balance in the economy, and focusing on grass-roots consumption as a key economic multiplier rather than capital-intensive investments. Common prosperity is one approach to systemic inequality, a socially corrosive factor that can ultimately undermine governments that do not address it, whatever the political system. When so many are pushed into poverty while so few accumulate staggering wealth, surely there must be social consequences.