When the outbreak of a new virus in Wuhan, China made world news back in December 2019, few people imagined we were about to face the global crisis that COVID-19 has unleashed. And even those who did, predicted that richer countries would remain relatively unscathed by the virus, with their well-funded health infrastructure with highly trained and experienced personnel and cutting-edge facilities. Developing and least developed countries, on the other hand, were expected to be hit the hardest.

However, by the time the World Health Organization officially declared the pandemic outbreak in March 2020, several Asian countries had already begun taking bold steps to safeguard their borders. Instead, it was Europe that became the first epicentre of the virus outside of Wuhan, with thousands of deaths and primary health systems groaning under the weight of the pandemic in just a few short weeks. In the months since, it has become evident that SARS‑CoV‑2, the virus that causes COVID-19, does not spare any persons or nations.

To date, there have been 66 million confirmed COVID-19 cases and over 1.5 million deaths, as countries try to balance saving lives with saving livelihoods. In spite of these alarming statistics and bleak outlooks, some countries – rich and not-so-rich, big and small – have emerged as early success stories in the fight against the pandemic.

Some of these stories are captured in UN DESA Working Paper 172 , “Variations in COVID strategies: Determinants and lessons”. The paper examines the experiences countries that performed relatively well in managing the COVID-19 crisis: Brazil, China, Germany, Iceland, Italy, Republic of Korea, Rwanda, South Africa, Uruguay and Viet Nam It compares their experiences to countries that struggled to deal with the pandemic effectively.

The paper examines the health-care, social protection and overall governance systems of select countries as the three main determinants of COVID-19 strategies and their success, and garners insights and lessons that might prove useful to other nations that may experience future rounds of outbreaks.

Though unique country-specific factors played an important role in confronting the pandemic in some countries, their role was generally evident in one or more of these determinants. The findings of the paper suggest that establishing universal health care and social protection systems and improving governance need to be taken up by all countries as immediate tasks, not as distant goals, if the world is to be prepared for future epidemics.

Read the full working paper here:  https://www.un.org/en/desa/variations-covid-strategies-determinants-and-lessons