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A Global COVID-19 Exit Strategy

Summary:
The COVID-19 pandemic poses an unprecedented threat to both public health and the global economy. Only by ditching nationalist rhetoric and policies, and embracing stronger international cooperation, can governments protect the people they claim to represent. OXFORD – The world that emerges from the coronavirus pandemic may be a warring collection of countries that are more closed off and nationalistic than before. But without rapid and effective global cooperation, the world may not exit this crisis safely at all. Witnessing Wuhan PS OnPoint Xinhua/Xiao Yijiu via Getty Images Free to read

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The COVID-19 pandemic poses an unprecedented threat to both public health and the global economy. Only by ditching nationalist rhetoric and policies, and embracing stronger international cooperation, can governments protect the people they claim to represent.

OXFORD – The world that emerges from the coronavirus pandemic may be a warring collection of countries that are more closed off and nationalistic than before. But without rapid and effective global cooperation, the world may not exit this crisis safely at all.

For now at least, heavy-handed nationalist responses predominate. Alongside curfews, lockdowns, and requisitioning, governments are closing borders and using wartime rhetoric to rally their populations. Global supply chains and trade are being disrupted not just by lockdowns, but also by wealthy countries’ competition for supplies.

Soon, however, governments will need to restart the global economy. And that will require international cooperation in several key areas.

The first crucial element of a COVID-19 exit strategy is massive testing (for both infection and immunity), so that healthy people can return to work and those who are infected can get appropriate treatment. For this, countries will need adequate supplies of testing kits and protective equipment, as well as ventilators and access to emerging treatments.

International cooperation is vital to enabling mass testing and treatment. A primary supplier of the swabs used for collecting nasopharyngeal samples, Copan, is based in Northern Italy. The reagents used to extract virus RNA from collected cells are produced mainly by Qiagen, a German company with a complex global supply chain. And foreign companies make roughly half of the ventilators in the United States; one-third come from Europe.

And yet, while governors of US states are bidding against one another for scarce ventilators, some European...

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