The material on this site is for financial institutions, professional investors and their professional advisers. It is for information only. Please read our Terms & Conditions, Privacy Policy and Cookies before using this site. Please see our Subscription Terms and Conditions.

All material subject to strictly enforced copyright laws. © 2022 Euromoney, a part of the Euromoney Institutional Investor PLC.

Coronavirus: The World Bank should care that the public does not understand its pandemic bonds

There are legitimate criticisms of pandemic bonds, but the lunatic conspiracy theories online amid the coronavirus panic are damaging; the World Bank’s failure to refute them clearly is a mistake.


Pandemic bonds, and their cousins in the broader catastrophe bond sector, are peculiar animals. They are frequently complex, somewhat opaque, and they must wade through the mire of morbid possibility.

But at heart they are insurance. Like most insurance policies, they involve an assessment of the risk of unpleasant events. The relief they provide is determined by strict conditions. Fail to meet those and there is no pay-out.

The coronavirus Covid-19 outbreak racing around the world has raised the profile of the pandemic bonds that the World Bank issued in 2017. They have not yet been triggered, neither by Ebola outbreaks since 2017 nor by the coronavirus crisis of 2020.

For coronavirus this is for the simple reason that the bonds are only even considered for pay-out once an epidemic has run for 12 weeks. And at that point it must meet certain other criteria, such as the number of deaths, the number of cases, the geographic spread and the extent to which the epidemic is still growing in severity.

You have reached premium content. Please log in to continue reading.

Read beyond the headlines with Euromoney

For over 50 years, our readers have looked to Euromoney to stay informed about the issues that matter in the international banking and financial markets. Find out more about our different levels of access below.


Unlimited access to and

Expert comment, long reads and in-depth analysis interviews with senior finance professionals

Access the results of our market-leading annual surveys across core financial services

Access the results of our annual awards, including the world-renowned Awards for Excellence

Your print copy of Euromoney magazine delivered monthly

£73.75 per month

Billed Annually


Unlimited access to and, including our top stories, long reads, expert analysis, and the results of our annual surveys and awards

Sign up to any of our newsletters, curated by our editors


Already a user?

We use cookies to provide a personalized site experience.
By continuing to use & browse the site you agree to our Privacy Policy.
I agree