In the case of COVID-19, we have created a global society in which the phrase “every man for himself” is really a death sentence. In a world in which only a small percentage of the population even has the resources to manage everyday life, a global crisis calls for collective solidarity. Now that we have seen the rampant damage of COVID-19, which is not yet over, we cannot continue on pretending that another crisis will not find its way into our lives again. It seems that with the new information we have collected from this pandemic, now is the time to prepare for changes which will help make the world a better place in the future.
In May 2020, the EU hosted a meeting to collect financial resources for COVID-19 research in order to develop a vaccine, but according to the Financial Times, only about $8 billion dollars had been raised. FT notes that the United States, India, and Russia did not contribute to this fund, and there is significant concern that wealthier countries will hoard resources to care only for their people. As FT points out, if a poorer country succumbs to COVID-19, then it is only a matter of time before the virus inevitably finds its way back through the borders of rich nations. The only way to defeat COVID-19 is through solidarity.
Establishing solidarity between nations now will make way for a united world after the COVID-19 crisis is over.
According to USA Today, we have seen the damage of nationalism during a crisis before. During the H1N1 crisis, Australia paid $100 million dollars to be stocked with enough vaccine doses for its entire population before any could be sent to the United States, also in dire need of help. Now, in the midst of the deadly coronavirus, the United States has denied interest in joining a global vaccine research team, for its own Operation Warp Speed. David Fidler of the Council on Foreign Relations warns that by doing this, the United States is turning its back on an “insurance” of partnership in an unpredictable time. A global team is stronger in numbers and, by sharing information in the spirit of solidarity, more likely to find an effective vaccine. Most importantly, a vaccine developed in alliance and evenly distributed, will bring a quicker end to the virus.
Canada and Taiwan are some of the global leaders of solidarity against COVID-19. In May, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had already donated $850 million dollars to global vaccine research. While he pledges concentration on his own nation, he is firm in his stance that this must be a global effort, considering the level of social and financial inequality across the world. He reminds us that while we ourselves might have a plan to overcome a crisis, we cannot assume that our neighbor, figuratively speaking, has access to the same resources. They likely do not.
And since nations with fewer resources to fight COVID-19 are at risk, it in turn creates risk for all nations. As an exemplar of a nation willing to combat this, Taiwan, with the lowest number of COVID-19 cases, and with the virus largely under control, has also committed to the global vaccine effort.
Our world is one that suffers from inequality, where populations are disproportionately at risk, and each person’s action affects another’s life. If we want to move forward at all, a commitment to global solidarity through the end of COVID-19 and its aftermath is essential. If we can triumph over COVID-19 through solidarity, then that paves the way towards learning to work together globally to make the world a better place.