S&P Global cut its growth forecasts for some of Asia's top economies including India, the Philippines and Malaysia on Monday, offsetting upgrades to China and South Africa and much of Latin America.
The estimates, which feed into S&P's closely-followed sovereign ratings, saw India's growth projection chopped to 9.5% from 11% due to its COVID-19 outbreak, the Philippines' lowered to 6% from 7.9% and Malaysia's downgraded to 4.1% from 6.2%.
In contrast, China's forecast was nudged up to 8.3% from 8%, Brazil's was hoisted to 4.7% from 3.4%, Mexico's to 5.8% from 4.9% while those of South Africa, Poland and Russia were lifted to 4.2%, 4.5% and 3.7%, respectively, from 3.6%, 3.4% and 3.3%.
"The top risk facing emerging market economies (EMs) is a slower-than-expected rollout of the vaccines," S&P's economists said in new report, adding that the pandemic would only subside once vaccinations "reach a level consistent with herd immunity".
In Asia's emerging economies, vaccines are currently being administered at a rate of 0.2 doses per 100 people per day. At this rate, S&P estimated it would take another 23 months for 70% of EM Asia's population to be fully vaccinated.
The second big risk facing emerging economies, it said, was if strong U.S. growth and inflation cause an early tightening of U.S. monetary policy which then pushes up the dollar and makes servicing debt denominated in the U.S. currency more costly.
"While EM policymakers can't control U.S. inflation dynamics and the policy response, they can implement measures to influence domestic growth. In the context of the current pandemic, a key measure is stepping up vaccinations," S&P said.