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Why some countries have been so badly hit with high numbers of Covid-19 cases and deaths and others with either much lower death rates or infection rates is largely unknown but can be the subject of speculation. It easy for example to explain the success of New Zealand in preventing the virus to take hold with a total of 2308 cases and 25 deaths because of the relative isolation due to being a Pacific Island and because borders were shut early and a sensible government got the trust of its people. Some factors that play a part are obviously population density, the number of travelers into the country, the preparedness of government for dealing with a pandemic, population compliance with lockdown, government implementation, facilitation and support of isolation and quarantine of all infected cases and other unknown factors such as possible genetic ethnic factors, poverty and so on. Also accurate recording of data, numbers tested and numbers dying, diagnostic and hospital facilities all play a part. In an article published in Counterpunch. John Feffer attempts to address this question in “What explains COVID’s East-West Divide” he discusses the possible contributing reasons to this discrepancy.
“The obvious “losers” have been those countries led by right-wing nationalists: Brazil, India, Russia, the United Kingdom, and (until recently) the United States. These five countries are responsible for more than half of the world’s coronavirus infections and nearly half the deaths. “
Interestingly he assumes that US is no longer led by ‘Right Wing Nationalist Leaders’ as if there has been a radical ‘regime change’ with the departure of Trump.
However the analysis is interesting and contains some good insights. He states that the discrepancies are not necessarily due to whether the countries are ruled democratically, by a military Junta or by autocrats or communist regimes. He ascribes the difference to three reasons: The first is
“In 2003, the region was blindsided by the SARS epidemic. The first cases emerged in southern China in late 2002. By March, the new coronavirus was showing up in Hong Kong and Vietnam as well. Eventually it would appear in 29 countries and result in over 700 deaths. By July, after unprecedented international cooperation, the World Health Organization declared the epidemic contained.”
This has resulted in high awareness of the possibility of pandemics in Asia and preparedness for future pandemics.
“A second advantage that Asian countries have enjoyed is a coordinated central government response.”
It was not just coordinated it was detailed and worked out with the infrastructure to support proper lockdown and assist all those affected. Affected areas were isolated from travel early whilst South Korea instituted an excellent track and trace system unlike the Did-track dead in its track system we have here.
“The third advantage, and this comes the closest to a revival of the “Eastern values” argument, is the issue of compliance. “
Whereas in Asian countries the use of masks in public has been accepted and used even in the absence of an epidemic, the anti-mask movement here grew as a pretense for fighting for personal liberty. IN fact this attitude smacks more of selfishness than personal liberty. Also whereas there is a high acceptance of vaccines in Asian countries, the antivaccination movement appears to have got a shot in the arm with this pandemic with a large number of the population being vaccine hesitant.
WE have off course experiences those ‘fighters for personal selfishness’ in these forums. But at present we seem to have a lull.