3 April 2020   Leave a comment

As the COVID-19 plague spreads over the US, the evidence is accumulating that the poorer countries in the world are being overwhelmed and are not well prepared to deal with the crisis. Ecuador is one of those countries that have been seriously affected. Its most populous city, Guayaquil, has dead bodies in the streets because the medical system has been swamped by people seeking help. CNN reports:

“The coronavirus pandemic is overloading the public services in the country’s most populous city to a point of collapse. Hospitals have no beds left to accept sick patients, and morgues, cemeteries and funeral homes are straining. With no place left to put them, some residents say they have no choice but placing them outside.It’s unclear how many of the deceased are dying because of Covid-19. Many families say their loved ones had symptoms of the virus, while others only know the ill were unable to be treated at Guayaquil’s overwhelmed hospitals.”

Ecuador is expecting as many as 3500 deaths in the city. The intensity of the situation in Ecuador is due to the large traffic between it and Spain, which itself has seen many deaths. The Financial Times has published graphs on the growth of coronavirus cases in various countries in the world.

The graph shows that some countries continue to see rapid growth in the number of cases, while others, such as Malaysia and South Korea, have been able to arrest the rate of growth. Clearly, effective governmental action can have a huge effect on how rapidly the virus spreads.

But there is an additional complicating factor. An effective response also requires the necessary medical supplies to take care of the sick. But the world is witnessing an extraordinary scramble for those supplies, pushing the cost of some of those supplies are too expensive for poor countries. Politico gives a sense of how the market is favoring rich countries:

“The coronavirus pandemic is pushing countries around the world into a cutthroat competition for medical resources — and the United States is being cast as a leading villain.

“President Donald Trump’s administration stands accused of effectively hijacking shipments of masks and additional crucial supplies meant for other countries, including U.S. allies, and strong-arming private firms to prioritize America over other parts of the world.On Friday, Trump announced he was invoking the Defense Production Act to restrict U.S. exports of key medical gear.

“Developing countries, where Covid-19 has yet to fully wreak havoc, are terrified of being left behind in the race for personal protective equipment, or PPE, and other materials because they cannot match the purchasing power of the U.S. and other wealthy countries.

“Independent aid organizations that cater to the neediest corners of the globe are finding themselves competing for attention from medical goods manufacturers. The Trump administration has even asked aid groups to share those supplies with the U.S. government, in a bizarre reversal of the usual dynamic between the world’s leading power and those it typically helps.

“’It’s ‘Lord of the Flies: PPE Edition’,’ said Jeremy Konyndyk, a former U.S. official who specializes in disaster response. ‘We need some global solidarity, and instead we have global competition.'”

Over time we shall all witness the rising number of deaths in the world that could have been avoided if the world had decided to work cooperatively. The rise of nationalism in the world is making that response impossible. The tragedy demands more than a Darwinian response.

Posted April 3, 2020 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

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