The world is facing the worst pandemic in a century.
- triggered by a new type of coronavirus.
- In a highly interconnected world, efforts to reduce the effects of COVID-19 need to be coordinated, as an outbreak anywhere in the world puts all other countries at risk.
- That is if one country relaxes its control measures and triggers an outbreak, all other countries will be adversely affected. The same logic applies to areas within a nation or states in the United States.
Moreover even rich and wealthy countries in Europe have shown that individual actions might not be enough to contain an outbreak. The situation would be much worse if severe outbreaks arise in developed countries or countries in transition, such as Brazil and India. This means that collaboration, and not just teamwork, is required to solve this pandemic.
Ideally, one will look at past events and learn lessons about how to adapt to such a pandemic. However, serious pandemics are unusual occurrences and there is just not enough data to draw statistically valid conclusions. Furthermore, COVID-19 could well be the first significant pandemic in a fully interconnected world. Theoretical and experimental findings thus provide the best possible guidance. For climate change, the theory and studies projected that the burden-sharing solution adopted by the Kyoto Protocol was not an efficient strategy. It took almost 20 years for the world to understand this and change this approach. We may not have the luxury of such a pause in finding the correct approach to fix COVID-19.
In either case, efforts should be made by the world to establish cooperative institutions around the corona-pandemic, improve collaboration and promote communication on better outcomes. This is both appropriate and likely to be efficient, as discussed above, given the prevailing incentive structure. This is true of COVID-19, but also of possible pandemics. Abandoning the WHO is certainly not a step in the right direction, which does not preclude the possibility of change.