How the West knowingly condemned millions to death by Covid
In terms of the total number of deaths, the United States accounts for the biggest fraction of Earth’s Covid body count thus far, but that record will likely topple soon. At the date I’m writing, Brazil’s death toll is nearing 400,000, and India’s 200,000, with little hope of slowing down. With hospitals in India buckling under the strain and desperately short of oxygen, the US, UK, and Germany have already pledged to send aid, and other countries like Canada are preparing to do the same. What’s missing from this display of performative compassion is any acknowledgement of a dark truth. Responsibility for much of the international death toll from this point forward lies firmly at the feet of the wealthiest of nations.
After more than a year of pandemic, we see conclusively that nations which acted quickly and decisively to aim for zero transmission rate emerged the most unscathed. They not only lost the fewest lives, but also suffered the smallest economic impacts. But the window of opportunity for that kind of leadership has closed. What is happening next is the wealthiest nations leveraging the blunt instrument of their economic power to secure themselves every advantage they can. It’s how despite the Trump administration being worse than asleep at the wheel as the first waves raged, more than half of America’s adult population has already received their first dose of Covid vaccine.
The effective way to deal with a global threat is with a global response. The World Health Organization — and a ton of other intelligent people — have been telling us that no one is safe until everyone is safe. Unfortunately, the weaponized selfishness so utterly prevalent in our economic and political models is not designed to see things that way. This cruel perspective has been so thoroughly baked into our culture that it seems you cannot make a public comment on the internet about all being in this together without invoking a barrage of fury and vitriol from strangers desperately eager to illustrate how completely they don’t care about others. The costs will continue to mount.
Rich countries quickly bought up the global supply of vaccines, leaving poor nations exposed. When 80 countries petitioned the world trade organization to…