The Ideal Covid-19 Response? Mix New Zealand, Denmark and Uganda

The ideal governmental response to Covid-19 would combine the testing policy of New Zealand, the schools policy of Denmark, and the communications strategy of Uganda, according to a study of different countries’ responses.

Research by Michael Barber, a former adviser to U.K. Prime Minister Tony Blair, and Idris Jala, who did a similar job for Malaysia’s Najib Razak, has looked at how different countries have handled the global pandemic in an effort to help others to learn from the most successful.

Among the examples they pick out are New Zealand’s extensive testing, which has seen more than 7,000 tests for each confirmed case, and South Korea’s contact-tracing, which uses data from security cameras and credit card transactions to follow people’s movements. Uganda’s use of radio call-in shows to engage the public in a country with poor internet access is praised, along with Denmark’s successful reopening of schools.

But they note that coordination between countries has been poor, especially when compared with the global financial crisis of 2008, when leaders including Britain’s Gordon Brown helped pull together an international response.

57,540 in U.S.Most new cases today

-2% Change in MSCI World Index of global stocks since Wuhan lockdown, Jan. 23

-1.​195 Change in U.S. treasury bond yield since Wuhan lockdown, Jan. 23

4.​4% Global GDP Tracker (annualized), June


‘Homework Assignment’

“For the first time in history, every government on the planet has been set the same homework assignment at the same time,” Barber said in an interview. “That should be a great opportunity for global learning, but there’s surprisingly little going on.”

This should be addressed as the world prepares to face the next set of challenges around vaccine distribution and economic rescue packages, he said.

And not every solution works everywhere. South Korea’s contact-tracing program is far more invasive than many populations would accept, for example. Though Barber pointed to a successful workaround in Australia, which passed privacy laws to reassure people their data would not be misused.

The pair have also attempted torank every country on how badly it has been affected by Covid-19 and how well it is recovering. Top of the recovery league on Wednesday were Thailand and South Korea. At the bottom were Honduras and the Bahamas. The U.K. was ranked 28th out of 184 countries. The U.S. was at number 131.

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