This article seeks to find the extent to which the international response to the deadly virus under the name of COVID-19 has been. To understand and rightly evaluate this, the paper presents a variety of ideas from different perspectives. Some experts believe the world has strongly failed in the battle against the coronavirus while others keep celebrating the great win. Initially, the work uses data from various books and websites, but later, it shows the results of official surveys and researches conducted on citizens from all around the world. Likewise, these contradict each other due to the dissatisfaction of the people and the somewhat positive consequences of the governments’ intervention which leaves to deduce that the international response can be considered partly effective.
Key words : pandemic, virus, Earth, international community, effectiveness.
The year 2020 has yet been a rather unique year, though not in a positive way unfortunately. A pandemic has taken over and turned the world upside-down. The name of the virus that has caused this chaos is COVID-19. It is not fatal to everybody, but there is a slight proportion of people with a low immune system or other previous health problems that are in great danger of losing their lives in case of getting infected. What is even worse is the way the virus operates meaning that it brings about the symptoms only after fourteen days. Therefore, there can be people carrying and passing it to others while being totally unaware of the situation. This is why there has been a massive panic and fear of the virus.
There are only a few places left on the Earth that have not been touched and affected by COVID-19. The rest of the world has ‘stopped’, one could say, because people are living in isolation and keeping social distancing. There are quarantine measures everywhere with companies, educational facilities or other public places closed. Businesses are in crisis, flights are cancelled, even movements throughout the cities are strongly limited. All this has been decided in order to fight against the virus and prevent it from spreading. But why are people still dissatisfied? Have the governments and world leaders done enough or could they have done more?
These are the questions that this article is purposed to answer. There exist many different views about the current issue, but all of them seem to be quite radical and one-sided. Thus, I am going to try and find the factors most close to reality and objectivity with the help of surveys and statistics about the development of the coronavirus.
While looking through and analyzing the literature related to the international response to COVID-19, I came across some controversies. Some are entirely convinced that the world has done a brilliant job with resisting the virus, while others blame the governments for the deaths of thousands.
One of the experts that criticizes the international community is Thomas J. Bollyky, director of the global health program and senior fellow for global health. He is of the opinion that countries, such as Iran, which truly need international support are not getting it in the proper amount or at all due to the lack of funding of the World Health Organization, even though it “put out a call for $637 million in terms of supporting low- and middle-income countries in preparing and responding to the COVID-19 epidemic/pandemic” .
Furthermore, another expert, K. Waltz, claims that the modern world is characterized by anarchy where there is no overarching world government what results in the states operating alone and fending for themselves against global threats, such as COVID-19 . This view is shared and further explained by Ken Oye who proposes that cooperation is the key to harmony game, whereas “if actors do not cooperate, then the situation most likely resembles deadlock” .
Sunil Venaik is also a scholar indicating the poorness of the international response with regard to the coronavirus. He states that many countries disobeyed the advice of the World Health Organization after the outbreak of the virus and “imposed unilateral travel bans on Chinese arrivals” what “may have made China more defensive and less willing to share vital information with the rest of the world” .
In terms of those in favor of the effective international response, Secretary Michael R. Pompeo praises the United States’ actions against COVID-19 in the world arena. He sets out that all the high-quality aid delivered to countries all around the world by UN humanitarian and relief agencies is “the generosity of the American people” which is a vivid example of true global leadership .
According to UN News, there has been an effective response to COVID-19 from the World Health Organization as it is ensuring that the world gets accurate information about the current situation and is preparing and mobilizing health workers that are then “sent to places identified as disaster or emergency zones” .
After analyzing the above-mentioned viewpoints of scholars, I came to the realization that all these sources lacked facts as evidence and were more opinion-based than closer to reality. Moreover, they had not taken into consideration what the ordinary people think and made assumptions themselves. That is why I searched for surveys presenting the standpoints of the citizens from all around the world relating the effectiveness of the international response to COVID-19. Subsequently, I looked up the official statistics about the coronavirus cases approved by the World Health Organization in order to gain awareness about the real situation and then evaluate the reaction of the global community as impartially as possible.
A group of experts conducted a survey among people from all around the world asking them whether they thought their government’s reaction to the coronavirus was insufficient . The survey took place between March 20 th and April 5 th and was carried out among at least 200 citizens per country. The data is presented in a graph and is measured on a scale from 0 to 1 with the latter being the most inefficient a government to could be in dealing with the current virus. It appears that the vast majority is rather unsatisfied with their systems with regard to the battle against COVID-19. As for those disagreeing with this point of view, from 0 to 0.1 lies most part of Africa as well as China and some other European countries including Austria and the Czech Republic. Most people from Europe as well as those from South Korea and Canada consider the actions of their countries insufficient on the scale from 0.2 to 0.5. Apparently, the individuals that think their governments have done the worst job come from countries, such as Australia, the United Kingdom, the United States, Japan, Russia etc. The state that is located at the maximum point is Turkey.
Regarding the coronavirus cases, the most reliable source, in my opinion, is the World Health Organization owing to the fact that it is internationally approved. According to the organization’s official website from December 3, 2020, there had been more than 63 million cases reported up to this time from which more than 1 million had been confirmed dead and more than 45 million recovered. As for the proportion of the daily new cases, they had been increasing since the end of February. However, the daily deaths started to fall after peaking in the second half of April. It is also worth mentioning that, since its peak in February the daily new cases growth factor has been fluctuating.
Despite the fact that every person is unique and has their own opinion and perceives the environment differently, there still exist some tendencies that can show the position of the majority. That is why the above-described survey and statistics can be considered reliable in terms of the mass, even though they do not speak for every single person on the planet.
In order to make a right deduction, all perspectives and sides should be considered, in this case the people and the governments. On the one hand, it is obvious that most of the citizens around the world are rather dissatisfied with their countries in handling the coronavirus effectively. It is commonly said that “there is no smoke without fire”. Therefore, these people probably have their reasons for their judgement. It is true that the international community could have done a more efficient job in the fight against the pandemic by better cooperation with the World Health Organization as well as other countries, especially the ones that needed immediate support. This might have saved numerous lives in those places. Moreover, some states wasted their time denying the existence of the virus because of ignorance and fear of global panic what could have also brought about criticisms from their citizens.
On the other hand, if we look at the statistics, it is obvious that there has been an improvement in the trends of the coronavirus daily cases and recoveries. This is also no coincidence and can be recognized as the result of the hard work of the international community as it applies to almost all countries. For this reason, it is unfair, from my point of view, to say that the global response to COVID-19 has been absolutely ineffective because that is not true and contradicts the facts.
What I believe is that the international response has been partly effective as the governments and the World Health Organization have taken various measures that have probably saved millions of lives, such as the quarantine, social distancing, free treatments and so on what we should really be grateful for. However, a large number of countries could have a done a better job and achieved better results, if they had acted earlier and more efficiently.
Although my data does not provide a comprehensive analysis of the effectiveness of the international response to the virus that has spread all over the world, my results are suggestive of some findings that enhance a better understanding of the whole situation generally.
The data makes it apparent that there are two sides of the coin, but my analysis shows that a golden mean can always be found. Instead of being radical as most of the authors I cited were, I take both sides into consideration in order to be fair. It is undeniable for me that the international community could have done so much better in the battle against COVID-19 and saved more lives, but it is also a fact that without the measures taken by the governments, the improvement that can be seen today would be impossible. This means that what they have done has been helpful and people should appreciate it, but they also had the opportunity to be more effective and they did not chase it.
Finally, I would like to say that the international response to the coronavirus has been partly effective, but the crisis has not ended yet. Therefore, I hope that the governments and world leaders will learn on their mistakes and handle the situation much more effectively in the future, no matter if it is COVID-19 or any other sort of global threat.
- Council on foreign relations. Responding to COVID-19–2020 https://www.cfr.org/conference-calls/responding-covid-19
- Waltz K. Man, the state and war — Colombia University Press, 1959 cited in Busby J. What international relations tells us about COVID-19–2020 https://www.e-ir.info/2020/04/26/what-international-relations-tells-us-about-covid-19/
- Oye K. Explaining Cooperation under Anarchy: Hypotheses and Strategies — Cambridge University Press, 1985
- Venaik S. Coronavirus hasn’t killed globalization — it proves why we need it — 2020 https://theconversation.com/coronavirus-hasnt-killed-globalisation-it-proves-why-we-need-it-135077
- U. S. Department of State. The US role in international organizations’ response to COVID-19–2020 https://www.state.gov/the-u-s-role-in-international-organizations-response-to-covid-19/
- UN News. 5 reasons the world needs WHO, to fight the COVID-19 pandemic — 2020 https://news.un.org/en/story/2020/04/1061412
- Caria et al. Perceptions of an Insufficient Government Response at the Onset of the COVID-19 Pandemic are Associated with Lower Mental Well-Being — 2020 https://psyarxiv.com/3kfmh/