By Anjiline Sirsikar
May 25, 2020
Ending the COVID-19 global march will require strong global cooperation. Currently, the world is struggling to brace itself against the SARS- COV-2 the novel coronavirus that causes COV-19. As of May 23, 2020, there are 5.29 million confirmed cases worldwide with 341K confirmed total deaths. According to The Forbes magazine, the United States has the highest number of COV-19 cases in the world.
Clearly, a health crisis never stands alone it is bound to come attached with severe economic devastation. Similar to the 1918 pandemic, knowns as the “Spanish Flu” which brought with it at the time war, and vast global destruction.
Commonalities between the Spanish Flu and COVID-19
Both the Spanish Flu and the COVID-19 are considered novel, and nobody in either era had immunity to them. Similar to the Spanish Flu there are no vaccines for COVID-19, both are considered to be lethal, and the control efforts applied then remain the same today, with quarantines, disinfectants, and limitations to public service. Understandably, the world was in the middle of a war, and soldiers were spreading the virus globally. Although, we live in a far more connected world with air travel and denser population the spread of COV-19 is more susceptible and faster to contract.
Forecasting the near future, upcoming months will be tougher for countries around the world as it embraces perils of the start-stop zones related to the lockdown. Most difficult will be keeping the general public on the same platform. Currently, individuals around the world are conforming to preventative measures set in place by their respective countries. However, once we go back to reopening businesses, and households begin to gain a sense of normalcy, minus the vaccination it will be difficult to avoid, and more likely to fall prey to phase 2 of the virus that is if pandemic continues to materialize.
Notably, we have to be very clear on how we apply the start and stop buttons related to mitigating the current pandemic. Therefore, bringing an end to the COVID -19 which is off on a high global march, demands stronger global cooperation.
Advice to Global Leaders
Globally, we need a more robust health care infrastructure, systems, and policies to both mitigate the current crisis, and avoid a similar one from occurring in the future. For instance, many rising global powers continue to rank low on the Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) scale. We need to do a better job of building a stronger more sustainable health infrastructures in these countries, so that all citizens regardless of their demographic and geographic settings have equal access to healthcare-related facilities. Currently, we are failing to that end.
Indeed, we need to elevate higher levels of set spending for health care. Although, this is somewhat of a challenge for most countries who have pre-existing debt crisis situations, however with the continued support of the World Bank and IMF it is doable.
No Policy Refinement required to combat COVID-19
The policies and tools we have in place to offset the current health and economic crisis do not need further refinement, however, we do need to think strategically as to how we will maintain the current policies to mitigate the crisis at hand and avoid a similar crisis from reoccurring in the future. The goal should be to make the current policies more effective.
Many leading economists have expressed deepening concerns related to protectionist measures set in place to better mitigate the current crisis. Indeed, there have been increases in shutdowns on travel across borders, global supply chains have broken down and truly countries will become more protectionist. Indeed, there will be increased production inbound in their own home countries, to put controls on exports.
In my expert opinion, exports should never be considered in isolation, especially in relation to globalization, because export growth boosts GDP, which in turn implies more exports and the greater the proportion of exports in relation to the GDP the bigger the boost to domestic output considering the foreign demand for goods continues to rise. Therefore, analyzing the protectionist stance is more of a balancing act.
I disagree that there will be a sound recovery, not when millions of lives are lost, and unemployment numbers continue to rise. Simultaneously, consumer confidence is low and fears related to the virus continue to escalate among the global population. If we are to mitigate the crisis and bring an end to the pandemic, we need vaccinations and we need it fast. Once the vaccinations arrive, we will need to step it up by increasing global cooperation and make it humanly possible to provide vaccinations to all parts of the world.