Covid-19 and International Response

Photo by Martin Sanchez on Unsplash

COVID-19 emerged in China in late 2019 and has since spread around
the globe, infecting millions and leading to hundreds of thousands of
deaths. Since it emerged, the pandemic epicenter has shifted from
China to several countries in Europe, Asia, Africa and America. In
addition to the high counts of illness and death, COVID-19 has
prompted a global economic recession with varying impacts on
countries worldwide, according to the World Bank and the
Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).
Over the past few months, the world has developed and begun
distributing different vaccines with varying degrees of efficacy;
lockdowns have come and gone…and come back again; some
countries have undergone crucial political transitions; and new virus
mutations have begun to appear, to name just a few. With all that in
mind, it’s high time to look back at the initial batch of countries that
we deemed as standouts in the early days of the pandemic, to learn
what their experiences have taught us as the pandemic continues to
shape our daily lives.


Among these includes Taiwan which continues to post admirable
numbers when it comes to Covid-19, a testament to what early
action and aggressive monitoring brings to the table when battling a
pandemic. Rather than shuttering its economy for weeks on end in
an attempt to slow the virus, Taiwan went another way—after
quickly closing its borders and banning exports of surgical masks, the
government used contact tracing and mobile Sim-tracking to identify
and ensure those in quarantine were actually abiding by the rules.
Taiwan has a single-payer healthcare system, medical officials held
briefings for the public daily, and businesses were kept open by using
aggressive precautionary measures. Throughout, the government’s
centralized response was seen as convincing and credible. Singapore
is a similar story to Taiwan—and was among the first countries hailed
a “winner” for its pandemic response, a well-deserved reputation on
the back of its aggressive approach to contact-tracing (which
included scanning people’s IDs at supermarkets) and widespread
testing.


Thirdly, Germany’s response to the virus is held up as a model within
Europe, reflecting a measure of good luck as well as its strong
starting position. The country was spared the early surge in cases
that neighbors Italy and Spain saw, and its quick containment efforts
(including widespread testing, extensive public communication and
transparency) received broad public support. With plenty of
hospitals and intensive care beds, it was able to bend the curve.
About two-thirds or more in South Korea, Sweden, the U.S., the UK,
Japan and Canada say their lives have changed at least a fair amount
due to the pandemic. (In all of these countries except the UK, the
government never imposed a national-level lockdown. The UK is
playing a leading role in shaping the global health response to
COVID-19 by accelerating progress towards a vaccine. It proudly to
have hosted the Global Vaccine Summit on 4 June 2020 which raised
$8.8 billion for Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, which will support the
manufacture and delivery of vaccines for COVID-19 and other
diseases to the poorest countries.


Hence, many commentators have come to the conclusion that
pandemic disease caused by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) is a
political problem as much as it is a public health tragedy. Politics has
been at the core of how governments have prepared for and
responded to this crisis. Political decisions have beleaguered or
improved outbreak management, sometimes irrespective of the
strength of a health system, clearly demonstrating the political
determinants of public health.

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