So Far, world leaders have not shown any inclinations to view COVID19 as a common enemy against mankind. Most of the leaders are too preoccupied with their domestic affairs to think in terms of global affairs.
Let us talk about China first. China is the country where COVID-19 originated from and travelled to all over the world. China was accused of not alerting the world about the real situation in time. It had delayed reporting the virus to the World Health Organization (WHO), and perhaps, in the process, contributed to the exacerbation of the spread of the virus across the globe.
The US had not even bothered to inform the EU before shutting off flights from Europe. However, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi convened a meeting of SAARC countries to have a common agenda for the grouping.
Why we need global actions to fight COVID19
COVID19 is not showing signs of abating anytime soon
So far, countries have decided to impose lockdowns, massive shutdowns and physical distancing. But, for populous countries like India such measures come at enormous economic and social costs. As long as the virus is alive in some corner of the world, it would resume its travel across the world the moment international travel restrictions are relaxed.
Epidemiologists have warned that unless herd immunity develops the virus will remain alive and strike whenever there is a lowering of guard.
Pandemics like COVID-19 respect no borders. Anybody living any part of the world can be infected by COVID-19. The millennium has already suffered three pandemics and COVID-19 will certainly not be the last.
Closing borders is the most appropriate response at this juncture. But, there is a much bigger and emergent need for leaders of nations to come together for collective global action.
Two biggest concerns
- Right wing ideology is already sweeping across the world. It is feared that the latest pandemic will only strengthen this ideology. Global good will be presented as in conflict with and inimical to national interests. National, short-term economic interests will gain currency. We will have more closed border than ever. Movement of people across borders will be restricted.
- Second concern is the fate of multilateral institutions. WHO’s response to COVID-19 has come under the scanner, not merely for incompetence, but also for lack of intellectual integrity.
What needs to be done
The best way to ensure speedy research is to pool global resources. WHO/UN/G20 and other organizations should ensure that no country faces shortages of drugs, medical equipment and protective gear.
It is very likely that some nations that have succeeded in bringing the pandemic under control, such as China, Japan or South Korea, might have the capability to step up production at short notice to meet the increasing demand from other countries which are behind the curve. Such countries should help developing countries in fighting this pandemic.
Protocols might need to be put in place among participating countries to ensure seamless logistics for the supply chain for essential goods and services to function efficiently.
There needs to be instantaneous exchange of authenticated information on what clinical solutions have succeeded and what has not.
There should be a cross-country collaboration on laboratory trials and clinical validation for vaccines and anti-viral drugs. The best way to ensure speedy research is to pool global resources.