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Recognizing the Need for a Global Response to COVID-19

NYT-Arun Sankar-Agence France-Presse-Getty Images
Migrant workers in Chennai, India, waiting to receive food packets during a government-imposed nationwide lockdown. Photo Credit: Arun Sankar / Agence France-Presse / Getty Images
April 28, 2020

After a month and a half of contending with the immediate impacts of COVID-19, the long-term consequences of the pandemic are now beginning to become apparent. In an opinion piece titled, “This Won’t End for Anyone Until It Ends for Everyone,” in The New York Times, former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power, discusses how COVID-19 is “poised to tear through poor, displaced and conflict-affected communities around the world.”

The sanitation protocols outlined by health officials are impossible to follow for the three billion people who do not have reliable access to water and are unable to wash their hands at home. Furthermore, clinics in these areas are often strained for resources such as gloves, masks, coronavirus tests, and ventilators — she cites, for example, that the entire country of South Sudan has only four ventilators in total — and do not have the space that is required to isolate infected patients. Even with a ratio of 26 doctors for every 10,000 Americans, the health care system in the United States has been overwhelmed by the virus; comparatively, there are countries in Africa that average fewer than 3 doctors for every 10,000 citizens. Given the combination of factors, COVID-19 is exponentially more lethal for developing nations.

The human cost of this pandemic is likely to devastate the world’s most vulnerable communities. Power highlights that it is critical that we react to this threat proactively and to confront this pandemic as a “broad and determined global anti-COVID coalition.” It is imperative that there is a global plan to manufacture and allocate resources to help fight this pandemic, in particular to countries with fragile healthcare infrastructures. Overcoming a pandemic is never a zero-sum game, and confronting COVID-19 is not a question of collaborating only as a local community, province, or nation — we must also come together as a united and compassionate global community.